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The Prestine Landscape (Terrain Works)

Started by Lowkee33, September 14, 2010, 08:37:29 AM

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OIC, that is too bad if only making a terrain mod could be that easy :D  But I do suppose this means that we can make 3D replicas of our favourite paintings and pictures using SC4 $%Grinno$%

- Matt

!!!!GO HABS GO!!!!


I was thinking my "Show us your pictures... Of Yourself" post would be a picture of me playing SC4 with a picture of me as the terrain  ::)

Making some progress on the edge issue.  On a flat map the edge seems to be random for every city render (same city can have different edges provided you don't save).  Maps with hills start with a moisture level, and then after the first week of mayor mode "jump" to a moisture setting that is the same every render.

So right now I am just changing the INI so that, at least for this map, the borders are un-noticeable.  Fortunatly the same effect can be given to a tree controller, and we may be able to bypass this issue entirely.  I am having to take out some snow from the lower/wet areas and add to some high/dry areas.  I noticed that my July is seamless, so that at least gives me hope.

...I talk a lot in this thread.


Quote from: Lowkee33 on October 18, 2010, 03:26:04 PM
Actually there is something you could do.  I have attached the Weather Exemplar that I am using for the mod.  If you could test to see if this slows down your game then that would be great.  I am computing less variables, and I think the game should run faster, alas, I have no big cities.
I sometimes play with Wren Weburg's Maxisland region It comes with a region pop of 1.3 million and some hilly terrain. I'll pop in your mod and see if I notice a difference.

QuoteIf you are familiar with Ilive's Reader:

I downloaded and installed Ilive's Reader just after I got back into the game... opened it once.. and closed it real quick!  :o ... and frankly, not ready to open it again. ()sad() Sorry I can't help on that level... hopefully there are others that would be more adventurous than I.
goes off to play...

EDIT  after a few hours of game play  she returns...

No bad news!!! Nothing stuck out at me as far as 'speed of game play'.  I am playing with CPT No6 ItaliaTerrain Controller. It was cool to see the season sequence..especially when the snow showed up on the mountain tops! Up until installing your weather exemplar, I never noticed seasons before... well unless I had seasonal trees... but to notice the ground texture changing as the year passed was pretty cool!  :thumbsup: 

My only comment is how brown things get starting in mid July through August...the idea is right, but the colour (IMHO) is wrong... in nature summer fading to autumn is more 'light brown', tan.... bleached.. (but not too white!)

I don't know much... but I really like this!

Let me know if you need more feedback...



@Gringamuyloca: I forgot about Wren's MaxisLand, I will certainly be using this.  Thanks for the feedback.  Good to know it didn't crash you.  I will be considering your opinion about the colors, in fact, I may have a solution.  Also, keep in mind that this will not be the Italia Terrain Mod.  I also think it's okay to double post when you have something as valid to say as your edit.  That way it gets marked as a new reply to me, but the surprise is nice too :)

So, I posted my problem in BrainBusters and RippleJet provided this link to Ennedi's post about the same thing.  The conclusion is that we can't really make it go away.

So the left side is going to wetter, but the INI can be edited to make it seamless (almost).  Snow was the hardest as it is so contrasting to the other textures, and that is all I focused on, but it came out pretty good:  Jan-July

It's 2mb.  Is that too big?

I basically matched the left side to the right of the cities in Jan.  This changed the left side in Feb, so I had to match the right side there, and that changed the left side of March....  At the same time I was trying to push the snowline up so that in July it would be about the altitude Giraff suggested to make a permafrost zone.  The downside is that in order to make this work we loose all of the low level snow.

Because I added a lot of snow textures I lost much of the grass textures.  I will have to go through them all again to make them match borders anyway, but I bet I wont use all of the textures with the INI space I now have.  If I don't I may raise the snow level to get more variance in land.  I also think it gets too dry too fast and will work on that.

Now I just go through and fix the border issues and insert detail textures.  One of these textures will probably be in January.  I think it is a little to plain, but this I can fix by adding textures on the moist side, so that they don't conflict with the color scheme of Feb.

Thanks All.



I, too, did a lot of exploring of the various terrain mods and how to make one of my own.  I chronicled my learning process in my MD "Abajo Del Mar", which is currently languishing in the "Archives" section of the MD's, due to my not having had time to work on it for quite a while. 

Like you, I found that the grid of textures the game actually uses is quite small compared to the available and filled 255 slots in the Tropical table.  I found that really only the center 4-5 columns of the table display in game.  You could test this out (like I did) by creating a new FSH file that is a single color, say bright blue, and then installing that file in every column EXCEPT for the center 4-5, then loading your game.  I did this and there was no bright blue anywhere in my game map, despite rather extreme variations in terrain.  So in many ways, I think one could create a blank FSH file and plug that into the terrain mod, perhaps it would save game loading time and/or drag on the computer, I don't know. 



NAM + CAM + RAM + SAM, that's how I roll....


@Mightygoose:  Thanks :)

@Idvger (Ldvger?):  This mod takes advantage of the Weather Exemplar to get all 255 slots visible.  It is sometimes hard to get the Warmest/Driest texture because that happens on a slope, and by the time the terrain is sloped enough the next level of altitude has been reached.  The default level flat land often has two textures (July has the driest and second driest) visible, and therefore there is a lot less repetition on flat land.

As far as making blank textures I think it could work on the non-weather mods.  I would say to make a new texture that is 1 pixel large and fill that in any slot that doesn't get seen.  You have to be careful for two reasons.  1) Weather does exist by default, and so you should test in late Jan and late July.  2) Slope has it's own variables, and so a very steep slope could get textures that you wouldn't see otherwise.  It would be best to have a backup INI for cases when you see your 1x1 you know what texture to replace.  I will have some time tomorrow, and perhaps post an INI that shows what textures can actually be seen with default weather.

If the proper textures were replaced with the 1 pixel texture you could to remove them from your texture pack and get a smaller size plugin folder.  Not too sure how much space you could get though, and the proportions to the rest of your plugin folder (1 mb less doesn't really matter with 1 gig).

I don't really notice a difference in load/save times now.  I think I notice it when I do large changes to the INI so that different textures are loaded than when saved.  I will have to install SC4 on my old laptop and do some testing.  It would be neat to get a function of load/save time based upon plugin size.

Sometimes I switch back to a cp terrain mod to compare, and sometimes I wonder why I am doing this :)  His terrains perform well with the custom weather, but I don't think he meant for weather to happen.  I also think that he knew that many textures wouldn't be seen, and there are large areas of just barren rock in places that we never see. 


More @Idvger:

I got to look at your MD today and there is a lot of good work there.  Mine fell to the same fate as I learned about terrain mods. 

I was able to make a 1 pixel large, black, texture with Fishman, and place it in the INI.  Through testing I conclude that the first three columns (driest) are never seen with default weather.  The reason you saw so little textures on your map was the lack of hills.  I have attached this texture, and feel free to use it.  I will leave it to you all to fill the INI yourselves and find out if it makes a difference in game perfomance.  I have given it an instance of 0xD0.

  1)This might not work.  It did for me... 
  2) You may actually see it in your game after filling in the first three columns of the INI.  In that case, say "Darn Lowkee33" and perhaps fill only the first two columns.
  3) While playing around with some solar flare fractal textures (that competed with Starry Night) I found one of the instances I used was a layer of cliff that appears on the edge of a map.  I wish I remember what instance that was, but be warned that ID 0xD0 may replace some unknown ID that SC4 uses or a custom texture.  Best bet would be to replace "D0" with a texture ID that you don't use (a desert texture in CPNo_3&4 while using Meadowshire or the like).

  I have also attached the Moisture Data View that I use.  It replaces the land value data view.  A very helpful tool in knowing what Moisture level a target texture falls under.  Combine that with the cheat "Terrainquery" and a texture slot can be pinpointed in-game.

  In your MD you also use the ExtraTerrainTools2 to make lakes.

  Opening this up in Reader there are two exemplars.  One for the Lake tool, and one for the Rain tool.  There is actually a 3rd exemplar in SimCity_1.dat called Spring (?), and the LText says something like "to make rivers".   These tools interest me very much, because I feel like if there is a way to make real rivers happen it would be in here.  I will have to try to make the spring tool work.

  The lake tool has two Operation IDs: 0x08 and 0x09.  Seeing that the Valley (or something like that) tool has an Operation ID of 0x08 we can assume that 0x08 is what lowers the terrain.  In fact, if the DefaultStrenght1 in the Lake exemplar is set to 0,0,0,0,0 (5 zooms) you will get a tool that only makes lakes, and more importantly, will never raise the sea-level with over use.  The Strength #2 can be increased, and your lakes will appear faster.

  So why does the Rain tool flood?  I don't know.  Operation ID 0x04 is a mystery to me.  I can say that along with the noticeable effects of the tool it also increases the moisture level, and perhaps a certain amount of moisture makes water.  There are some hints to things like thing in the terrain INI, but I have not been able to make them work.  Another part of this is that these lakes do not save.  We can see them in the Region View, so perhaps it is more correct to say that they do not Load.  I think this is because the moisture simulation is run at load time, and the effects of the Tools are lost.

Suffice to say it will be some time before I start planting trees, and even longer before I start lotting again.


Things are looking very good people :).  I am doing a few tests on other regions, and I will be making the rock/snow blend more realistic, but I am about done.  A week late than predicted, but oh well.  I am currently working on the Installer/Readme/Packaging, and I want to raise a technical issue:

The CP Terrain Controllers have four functional pieces:

1) The Terrain Properties Exemplar:
    -Among other things, this exemplar defines the Max Terrain Height, Cliff appearance function, and beach controls.  CP has released various terrain heights for the same INI (texture map).  In this way there are higher/lower snow mods.
2) The Flora Brush Exemplar:
    -This exemplar defines the Radius and Strength of the god-mode flora tool.  CP has made the radius larger and appear different sizes at different zooms.
3) The Flora Tuning Parameters Exemplar:
    -The main thing this does is define the height at which the 16 layers of trees are distributed.  The reason this is in a terrain mod is because if the Max Terrain height has been changed this variable needs to be changed to look correct.  There are also variables that define the behavior of random tree planting, and burnt trees.
4) The Terrain INI
    -The meat of the terrain mod.  This is where the texture IDs are placed to define what we see in-game.  There are also many different things discussed in the INI, but erosion control is the only functional and modded one (that I know of)

When Ennedi made his Jagged Edge mod he had to change the Terrain Properties Exemplar.  The fact that each CP (and every other Terrain Mod) uses this exemplar means that he had to make 10+ Jagged Edge mods.  Such is the same for anyone who wants to modify one of the four parts to a cp terrain mod.

I would like that to be changed with this mod, but I don't know how.  I tried to make the Terrain Properties Exemplar part of a Cohort tree, but my limited knowledge left me with something that didn't retain the properties (I made the TPE point to a cohort of itself.  I then changed the exemplar to have a max height of 100 so that any "level terrain" would destroy the landscape.  I then made a new TPE with only the "Texture Tiling Factor" in it and set it to .01 so the terrain would look totally bad.  In game I lost the max height/destroy terrain property).  While I tried to figure it out I just got to a CTD.

The thing is, mods like Ennedi's or Dobdriver's Sky background only change one variable in the TPE.  Erosion mods change 2 (3?) variables in the INI.  By using Reader it is very possible to see what has been changed and change it oneself.

In that light I feel like it would be okay for me to stay with the status qua (although I don't like how cp terrain mods plant one maxis tree every two years).  However, would anyone like those 4 parts to install as 4 individual files?

I am afraid that I have not met the wants of you all.  There have been hopes for multiple levels of snow and snow intensity, no snow at all, French Alps, and the Australian Outback.  I feel this mod may be somewhat like the Alps, but I really am only familiar with my surroundings.

I hope that when/if this mod ever gets to you that you will share your opinions about what I could change so that as time goes by I can do more mods.  I have learned a lot about the variables controlling terrain, and I will be including optimization of them in my Advanced Terrain Mod tutorial.  Once I get this finalized and try for the LEX I will be working on making new seasonable lots so I can actually play this game :)

Thanks everybody for the comments, and feel free to comment more as I don't plan on stopping making terrain mods. 


thanks for your job, I will tell you more when I will try it. As you know I am very interested by this mod for future snow themes development.  :)
The Floraler

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, feel the earth move, and then...

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *    * 


@Girafe:  Thanks.  Do you play with your max height set to >5000?  I think I am going to set it for 3000 for the upload, but I will also include a link to a tutorial about how to optimize a mod for specific regions (height, beaches, cliffs).   


don't know exactly about the height (3000 is a little bit low and 5000 a little bit too high, 4000 could be perfect  ()stsfd()), did all this work runs with cp textures as dependancies or could we use other Terrain mod like Orange's.

I think at first I will try the version you will upload and after tell you what you could upgrate for the case of mountains :)
The Floraler

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, feel the earth move, and then...

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *    * 


Right now they are all CP textures.  I will make a mod using Oranges as time goes by.

5000m is too high.  4000m is about maximum height that can be seen from all zooms.  At about 4600m the textures don't render anymore (for me).

I have the max height set to 4000m.  Most maps don't go past 2000m and I want lowlanders to enjoy the snow :).  Fortunately, their is a variable for just that.. Temperature Range factor.  This variable determines the speed of the temperature change with altitude (or the speed at which the 32 layers are picked).  I am going to have this set to .6 so that snow appears year round at 1300m, and appears at 1000m during winter.

@Girafe:This setting means that you are going to be seeing the top layer (0) from about 2000-4000m.  In order to make the layers appears for equal times you would need to set the temperature range factor from .6 to 1.0.

Best of both worlds?


Hi Lowkee, I've been playing around trying to get a good terrain mod for my city. No luck so far, but your tutorial's have really helped.  :)

But I have a question. Would it be possible hard to say, stop the terrain mod on one season, and keep it at that all year? For what I am doing it would look nice in about July, then I would lower it so that those dryer, brownish/orangery textures would show up closer to sea level, and then I would remove the snow.
(if it is released of corse)

I may apply this another terrain mod and what I really am asking is, how challenging (for a pretty much 2nd time i-live reader user) would this be?




I think I have not all understood but I will check this setting according to the map I played when do you will release this mod  :)

Thanks anyway for your research, and of course you need to fit this mod with Orange's textures   ;D
The Floraler

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, feel the earth move, and then...

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *    * 


@Marsh:  Are you confused by the tutorial?  Feel free to post any questions there.

Making constant moisture:  You need to change three variables in the Weather Exemplar: "Yearly Ambient Moisture", "Yearly Moisture Variation", and "Yearly Moisture Variation Factor".  If the second two are set to "0" then moisture, and thus textures, will stay the same through the year.  Then you would change the first variable to be the amount of moisture that you want.  This number makes sense to be between 3 and -3.  You can find the level you want by opening and re-opening SC4 until you have the textures you want.  There are also variables such as wind and hill moisture, and you could make those zero also, but it may not look as interesting.

Removing snow:  If all you want to do is make no snow then you can change the Temperature Range Factor in the Terrain Exemplar to a high number.  This variable basically defines how fast the 32 layers of terrain appear.  A value of "20" will show the sea-level textures until a high altitude.  By stretching out the layers you loose "resolution" of the layers.  It may not make a difference though, as there are about 7 textures that fit in with July anyway.  Say you had an all black image and you stretched it in Photoshop.  That image would still be all black.

Lowering Layers:  Probably the hardest/most time consuming thing.  You would have to change the INI for that.  It could be as simple as copy/pasting the higher levels to the lower levels, or copy/pasting to notepad and using the "replace all" function to switch the textures you want with the ones you don't.  It could be as complicated as completely re-vamping the entire Tropical Texture Map.  For something like this I recommend trying to replicate the "changing existing terrain mods" section in the basic tutorial.  One thing that I found helped is to put an out of place texture in the INI to pinpoint exactly where it shows up in-game.

All of these ways require a lot of opening SC4 and seeing what happens.

The next mod I make will have no snow.  I want make a mod that is desert-like and has a rainy season too.  This would be possible, but the rain would have to come in either Jan or July.  Every other month has a sister month where the moisture level is the same (thus the same textures will appear).

Your pictures in the picture comp are interesting.  If I was you I might think about having a lush beach, and then play around with the beach variables in the Terrain Exemplar.  This way you could make oasis' and river deltas.  I think you can find a grassy beach mod in the Landscape Designer's Studio section of SC4D.



Nowhere yet.  Working on some packaging issues at the moment.  I would like to include a "no erosion" mod with it, so I think that will install to the "LEX downloads" folder.  I think the main install will have three files: 1)The INI and Terrain Exemplar 2) The Weather Exemplar and 3) The Flora Tuning Exemplar.  The flora tuning comes with it because it connects a tree controller to the terrain, and a specific altitude is needed.  These would install to: Plugins\zzTerrain\Lowkee33

I made kind of a blunder with including rock textures (a CP_No5).  They can only be found by installing a CP mod.  I think I am going to ask permission to upload the one that I used with my mod.


I still have quite my original images for PyreneanTerrainMod. If you need additional textures it will thus be possible to me to realize them.

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Thanks Orange!

I will eventually use your textures to Mod with.

I was looking through 3RR tonight and had an idea concerning seasonal thing.  Right now the 3d items change at about the same time.  Considering that for flora to change perfectly in this release I need to make 7 sets of timings, the next snowy mod may be a little different.  I am thinking about having snow on all levels for a few months, jump to greener for the other months we will see.

For now I am working with Girafe and his wonderful trees to make them as seasonal-mayor-mode-flora.  I imagine they are getting close to a release date.  A link is here for you all to see.