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Of Special Interest Interviews

Started by threestooges, November 01, 2012, 08:46:23 PM

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It was really nice listening to the interview with Noah, Matt. Well done both of you :)
Had lots of fun doing my interview as well, even though I was a little nervous at first. Thanks for doing these, Matt, they're great!
Follow my SimCity 4 Let's play on YouTube


Great interviews so far! It's really interesting to hear which "philosophies" the players have ...

Thanks for your efforts! And I really hope we'll have some more interviews after November.

Angels can fly because they don't take themselves too serious!


Another fantastic interview Matt.....oh and you were good too Noah.  As I always say, interesting to hear the voice that goes with the name.

Call me Robin, please.


Great job Matt and Noah. It's a wonderful way to get to know the players better and to find out how and why they do what they do.

Good work and excellent ideas...

Ol.S / Benoit

Very nice interviews !
Great work Matt, this is not easy. :)
I like the idea. :)
MD : Click on picture


Willy (Swordmaster): Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, and I hope you'll enjoy Casper's just as much. They've been fun to do so far, so if there's interest I may try to keep them up for the coming months as well. Also, yes, it's good to finally learn how to pronounce Siilijoki. That one took me long enough to get right.

Arthur (art128): Glad to hear it's enjoyable Arthur. I've enjoyed doing them. There is a benefit to pre-recording these as I can take out some of the flubs here and there; mainly cutting for time. Hope you enjoy the rest of these.

Maarten (MandelSoft): That's a good point to make. We may have touched on it partly in the video, but it's good to spell it out for those who aren't familiar with it. Nice picture there too, it looks good.

sunv123: If someone learned something new, then this series was successful.

Noah (noahclem): Thanks for joining me for it Noah, it was a fun interview.

Casper (CasperVg): Thanks for sitting down with me for your interview as well Casper. You did fine with yours; actually probably better than me. I'm always highly impressed by people who can be fluently conversant in a second language. Looking forward to the next OSITM update too.

rambuckel: Thanks, and it was interesting getting to know your philosophy on the game too. Thanks for your work on that part.

Robin (rooker1): It is interesting to hear the voice that goes with the name we've seen for so long around here, isn't it? I have a few more interviews yet planned. It's just a matter of getting all the schedules synced up. Until then, enjoy this next one.

Joan (Jmouse): Glad you're enjoying Joan. If these go on after this month, you're on my list of people to interview for sure.

Ol.S / Benoit: Glad you are enjoying them. There are still more to come too.

To everyone else who has posted: Thank you all, it's been great reading the thoughts and comments and getting an idea of how to improve these for future updates.

This week brings something different. Some people don't have the ability to do a Skype interview, but that doesn't mean they should be left out of the fun. I sat down with rambuckel for this week's interview, and here's what came of it. Enjoy!

Q (threestooges): What first drew your attention to the game?

A (rambuckel): I have had the game since it was released in 2003. I had already played SC2000 and SC3000 and I was waiting for SC4 quite impatiently. In 2003 I was about to finish my law studies and playing SC4 was one of the best things to get me some distraction. At that time I played SC4 without any plugins and just for me. After that there was a time in which I hardly played any computer games. Sometimes I played role-playing games or adventures. Very rarely I played SC4 as well but that's not worth mentioning.

I somehow came over SC4 again about 2 years ago and I started collecting plugins and to follow MDs on simforum.de and later, on SC4D as well. I was really amazed about what had been developed and I really liked the fact that everybody in the community was able to contribute to the development of the game. Be it by means of showing creative ways to use things, or be it by means of "producing" Lots and BATs.

When I was about thirteen I started to tinker furniture for a dollhouse which my grandmother gave to me. The dollhouse itself was made for her by her father. So the house itself (the base of what it is today) was about 60 years old at that time. My mother asked a carpenter to build a roof and a third floor which could be attached to the house. So I really had a large dollhouse (3 floors + roof) and I tinkered furniture of all different styles for it. Here's a picture of one of the rooms

But to cut this long story short, I really like modelling :) And when I restarted playing SC4 this game seemed to be perfect to tinker things without needing a workshop and without dust and the smell of colours and glue in my flat.

Q: What got you to get into the SC4 fan community? What brought you to SC4D?

A: My start in the community of simforum.de was about May 2011. I already posted some questions some years ago (2009 as my account is from January 2009) but I didn't really participate. Sometime about May 2011 I was poking through simforum and I read the MD of FrankyFour (Framly here on SC4D). He showed some interesting way of creating the illusion of hay or straw lying on the field. I asked him for the props he used and he was quite annoyed of another person who was just consuming from but not contributing to the community. Well, he was right, that's not the best way to introduce oneself =)

About that time I posted some first pictures in the "Pictures-Thread" of simforum which had some good feedback:



The lots on the pictures were my first "own" lots showing a scenery which I created after watching a western style riding competition that afternoon.

Q:Those pictures, are those all separate, smaller, lots, or larger ones?

A: These lots are two large lots. I first used modular lots when I arranged my racing court as there were too many props on it for one lot.

Q: How long did it take you to learn the Lot Editor? How about to feel comfortable using it?

A: To learn how to work with Lot Editor didn't take a long time. To know which props are available and how they are named is much more complicated. At least things do not always have the names I expected them to have and not all props have English names. Most of the French props are named French. Things are a lot easier since I use the propviewer (http://community.simtropolis.com/files/file/21354-ilive-propviewer-0-1/). You can easily build your own groups of props so you do not have to look through all available prop packs to find things you are looking for.

I guess the propviewer is one of the most important things to feel comfortable using LE. Putting props on a lot is really not complicated. Finding the props fitting a planned scene is much harder.

Q: How long did the lots in those pictures take you to make?

A: As far as I remember these lots took about an afternoon all together.

Q: How did you come up with your user name here?

A: rambuckel is a combination of two names. I once had two guinea pigs called Rambo and Muckel. I don't know for what exactly, but I needed a nickname for a login and I combined the two names to Ram(boM)uckel because any other names I tried were already in use. And somehow this name was the name I usually use :)

Q: What made you want to start a Mayor's Diary?

A: As I still was in contact with Franky, he convinced me to start my own MD. I hesitated as I knew from the past that my fascination for SC4 always didn't last too long. But one day when I was dozing off I had the idea to create my own "Scotland". And that was the start of "Alba ceann mu dheas".

I demolished most parts of the map I was playing on and I was starting it all new except the parts which I already showed. And I began to focus on lotting my own stuff fitting the story.

And as you can see my fascination for SC4 is still lasting and it's really fun to develop Alba.

Q: So this is your first MD?

A: Yes :)

Q: What does "Alba ceann mu dheas" mean when translated to English?

A: The map I'm playing on it the southern part of Scotland. And I was looking for a name for my MD and so I looked if I could find a translation for "South of Scotland" in Gaelic. And so I was looking through different sites and found the following:

Alba =  Scotland
Ceann mu Dheas = Southend

So the correct translation of "Alba Ceann mu Dheas" is "Scotland Southend".

Q: I'd wager it's a safe bet you like horses. Have you always liked them?

Yes, that bet is safe! I grew up with horses and I already had some in my life.
First one was Titus, a huge black Trakehnen breed horse with the temper of a lamb. He actually belonged to my uncle but he was nearly exactly as old as I was and I learned how to ride on his back.

Then I had Lisa who was a chestnut heavy horse from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). She and her friend Fanny actually came from an agricultural production cooperatives as they were common in the GDR. Shortly after the "German Revolution" in 1989 these cooperatives had lots of machines and animals to sell which weren't needed anymore. So Fanny and Lisa moved to my uncles stable.

We had Lisa covered and so Ria was born. She was sort of the counterpart of her mother and both of them had the temper of lambs as well. Ria is still alive and she still lives close to my parent's house. As she is the best example for the word "patience", she used to "work" as a therapy horse for children who suffer from autism. I'm really looking forward to see her on Christmas. Ria has a son as well who belongs to my uncle in the meantime.

I put a little monument for them on the premises of Drumlanrig Castle:


And then there's Erbprinz who lives in a stable close to where I live now. He's quite a small black horse with a quiet temper although he is a little more spirited than the other ones. 

I've ridden and driven much more horses but these were the ones which really accompanied my life for the time they were there.

Here's a picture taken during summer holidays on a chateau close to Berlin:

And this is me in the stables:

And as I'm introducing the most important animals in my life I must not forget "Mozart" my despotic gray cat! He would be really insulted if I didn't mention him together with the horse-characters. And he would be right as he has more personality as some human beings have. He dictates when I have to get up. The "morning ceremony" is about this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ffwDYo00Q

Here's Mozart guarding my laptop:

And this is Mozart pretending to be the loveliest cat in the world:

Q: I'll never understand the fascination cats have with computers; but back to your MD, how long does an update usually take to prepare, barring interference from Mozart?

A: The time to prepare updates has increased since I started to create my own BATs. The places I show in "Alba" are real places. They are located about the place where I put them on the maps although they are not true to scale as the map of Scotland I use is far too small to build it realistically. So I try to focus on some spots of the places and I BAT buildings from real life to show them in the MD

A: Since this is based around real life, how do you choose and then go about re-creating the areas you focus on?

A:  The choice of focuses is mostly quite spontaneous. I usually start with Google Maps to get an overview of the place. Then I search for things which are typical for the town, the village or the region and then I choose which focuses I'll set. The focuses are at least defined by my BATing skills. So I cannot create everything I want, yet ;) Then I search for information about the place to see if there's something to mention. Quite regularly I give a short introduction to the place which is usually based on the real story of that place. I cannot really say how long this kind of preparation lasts because I choose the spots I will show when I start a new part of my region. I use prints from Google Maps showing the "real Scotland" and going over those maps I try to find the most interesting parts of the map. I mark those places on the map in the game and take some notes what to show. Of course I take the freedom to add scenes like Newton Riding Center which are not real. Those scenes are sometimes planned and sometimes spontaneously set.

The time for this preparation depends on how much focuses a place offers, how much focuses I decide to show and how complex the focuses are by means of BATing and lotting. And of course it depends on how familiar I am with all the props that are necessary to show a scene.

To give a more particular time measurement: My update with Drumlanrig Castle took about 2 weeks to prepare including the BAT and everything else. The recent update showing Newton Riding Center took about one week to prepare but that was due to the fact that I was on vacation and hardly did anything else =). Not included is the time I already spent with the basic horse- and coach-models. Other updates like Newton City center take about 3 days to prepare as most of the setting are growables and the plops that I added were already pre-fabricated. I just had to adjust them a little bit.

Q: Your terrain and flora, is it all a terrain mod, mayor mode flora plops, a combination of the two?

A: I use the Pyrenean(?) Terrain mod by orange_o and the MMP-trees by girafe. I usually start with an empty map with no trees on it. And I never used God-Mode-Trees since I started Alba. I have the Columbus-Tree-Mod installed but I never use it as the trees of girafe are much better (no wonder as they are more recent than the trees used in Columbus-Mod).

Q: How do you decide when something is "ready" or "done" whether it's an area in your city, or an update?

A: That actually depends. A part of a region is ready when all parts of it are built. A part of a map to show in an update is ready when everything I planned to show in the update is done. To reduce time between the "real" updates I sometimes show some little scenes from places which will not be part of an update such as larger forests. But even in these parts of the map there are sometimes scenes which are worth showing because they have some sort of atmosphere. 

Q: Where do you derive your inspiration for the game?

A: I love Scotland. I traveled through this beautiful country 3 times and I still love the memories of all those places I have visited. So it's fun to me to show this lovely country. I'm not yet in the highlands with my little Alba so actually I show parts I didn't travel to at the moment. But later on I'll come to places I've actually visited like Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, Glasgow, Edinburgh ... I wonder what it will be like to show these places that I've actually seen. In addition I love horses and riding. So Alba has become an MD showing Scotland as a horse loving country. Actually I'm quite sure there will be some sort of focus on sheep later on when we reach the highlands =)

Q: Do you play the game as intended (following budgets and RCI demand)? Is it a sandbox for you? Do you use cheats? How?

A: As I use lots of growable lots I have to have an eye on RCI demand. But I do not care too much about the budget. I do use cheats to have the budget to do what I want. But I still try to keep some sort of balance and so I try to not have a deficit which is over $2000. Actually the map of Stranraer has a very good balance and even has a surplus of about $ 500. But that's due to the fact that most of the Landmark-Lots I use do not produce any costs ;)

Q: What thoughts do you have for people who are considering starting a Mayor's Diary?

A: Just do it!
I know that some people do not dare showing their MDs because they think they are not good enough compared with the others. Well, there's surely some really outstanding MDs such as AntigOne, Corsica, Rondnoir, Siilijoki,  Winding River Project to mention just some.
But why should any other MD not become such an outstanding project? I think all MDs in all categories who are frequently commented by the community have one thing in common: They are unique. No matter if they show rural or urban areas or a mixture of both, they all show the effort that has been made to create the scenes on the pictures.

Q: If you had the chance to start it again, would you change anything? If so, what?

A: I'd start with a nearly empty plugins-folder and I'd just put in what I need for the map I actually play on =) I actually have a system now that allows me to just use the things I need but it was a real effort to tidy up that whole stuff :)

(threestooges): Thank you very much for your time for this interview, and very nice work with your Mayor's Diary, both in OSITM here and overall.


Another awesome interview Matt.  Thank you for doing these.
And fantastic work on the answers rambuckel.  I really enjoyed reading this.

Robin :thumbsup:
Call me Robin, please.


Great interview both of you! It's very interesting to learn more about you and your style Theresa. Mozart reminds me a bit of my cat, though I suspect yours is much younger. Unfortunately no horses here though  :'(

And Matt you do just as well in writing as in video  &apls


Great interview. Too bad you couldn't do skype, but this is a good alternative. Thanks both of you!



Great interview series, in both formats. Great to hear more background about Rambuckel - Alba is one of my personal favorites.
Click on the banner to celebrate!


Matt you are a real phenomenon in journalism and I admire that which you have undertaken. I watched your interview with Caspar in a breath and I was super interesting. I would ask you if you are able to conduct similar interviews with Alex Maarten. This will attract a large audience, and I think will lead to greater interest in the community.


Mozart is a well-traveled and sophisticated cat. Perhaps he would like to become an executive in the Bureau of Feline Affairs. We're always looking for a few good felines! :D
See the all-new National Capital Region!:http://sc4devotion.com/forums/index.php?topic=15118.0


Interesting, actually I am interested in discussing my region.  Just listening to these interviews really made me take stock of what I've done, how I've done things, why I've done things.  Really cool.


That was a nice interview with Theresa. Thanks for that. I am an oldfashioned man in some respects and so I like the interview to be text and images that I can read in my own time and my own speed.
It's nice to know other community members a bit more than by their avatars.

These interviews really add to the community.  &apls


Matt love your interviews man, great job again here!!!

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


Robin (rooker1): I've enjoyed it, and I'm pleased to see people have been eager to participate in them too. It's been fun to get to know other folks in the community.

Noah (noahclem): The writing was mostly Theresa. All I had to do was sit back and ask the questions. My thanks to Theresa for providing the thoughtful answers.

Willy (Swordmaster): Audio is fun, but it's more time consuming. Also, some folks aren't as comfortable with it as they are in writing. While I'd like to do more of the audio ones, if writing is needed, then it's a fine alternative.

benedict: Glad to hear you've been enjoying. There will hopefully be many more to come.

ivo_su: Thank you for your kind words. I plan to conduct as many of these interviews as I can. Most of them involving folks in OSITM for the month, but we'll see what the future has in store.

packersfan: Well keep those thoughts in mind. I plan on doing plenty of these. I'm planning to try to keep them current with the month's OSITM, but who knows?

FrankU: Getting to know people by more than their avatars was part of why I wanted to start this series. Also glad to hear your thoughts on text versus audio. I'll likely have a preference of audio here (unless people get tired of hearing my jabber on, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it), but there will certainly be more text interviews in store.

Pat: Glad to hear it Pat. Your podcasts were part of the inspiration for starting these.

So, rather than respond to every comment, particularly those directed at Theresa, or our other interviewees, I've directed my replies to people who actually appeared to be addressing something that needed addressing. To all of you though, thank you for your comments. It's great to read them all.

Now then, my apologies to one member whose interview is still in the works. I had hoped to have it posted by now, but RL and the editing process have been conspiring to slow things down. It's still in the works, so keeps your eyes out. I'll post it here when it's done. However, I was able to get in touch with someone from this month's OSITM to interview as well too. With that, I bring you:

Holt District by sim_link:

Q (threestooges): What first drew your attention to the game?

A: (sim_link): I had been really occupied with The Sims (Classic) when SimCity 4 came out. In fact, I didn't even know it was in development. I still played SimCity 3000 time to time, so when I went to Future Shop (an electronics retailer in Canada) and saw it sitting on the shelf, I picked it up. I looked at the box at the shiny, new graphics compared to SC3K and was very impressed. I picked it up and bought it that day. That was in March 2003, so just after the game's release. When Rush Hour was released I picked that up as well. :)

Q:What got you to get into the SC4 fan community? What brought you to SC4D?

A: That came much later than purchasing the game. Although I bought the game in March '03 I didn't join my first SC4 fan community (which was Simtropolis) in May 2008. I was attracted to the community by some nifty tutorials on YouTube using the RHW. The second I saw it I registered at ST. I began using custom content slowly (beginning with just the NAM, RHW and 2 BATs: A Kmart and a Walmart. :P). As I began increasing my custom content usage, I began noticing the amount of dependencies exclusive to the LEX. I didn't register at first, but one day I found that one must have, which required a LEX dependency. So I registered here in January 2009. I posted a few times (about 10 or so posts) and I had only 30 or so on Simtropolis at the time. Increasingly I wanted to get more active here, and when I launched Holt District I saw the perfect opportunity to begin being an active part of the SC4D community. And here we are!

Q: What was it about SC4D that made you want to get more involved? Why didn't you do so earlier?

A: I think it was the level of content that's shown off here. All communities have great contributors, and I think the level that SC4D members showed was a little daunting, so I didn't get active very quickly. It also felt foreign to me - I don't know how to expand on that other than I felt more "at home" at ST in the beginning since it is where I first joined. Eventually I decided being daunted was silly, and that I may as well take a stab at being active here. I think what made me really want to be more active, however, was just simply expanding my horizons to multiple sites and not being active at only one. You see several members switch seamlessly between SC4D, ST and many smaller sites, so I figured why not me as well. I think it has worked out well, and I'm glad I decided to get active here.

Q: What made you want to start a Mayor's Diary? What made you end your first one and start Holt District?

A: Well, after years of using custom content and refining my building skills, I decided I wanted to show off my cities. I posted only a few pictures in the "Show Us Your..." threads which went un-noticed. Gaining inspiration from the original MDs I followed (Haljackey's Greater Terran Region and Patricius_Maximus' Franklin County, along with Jounrey's Across Canada by ST Admin beebs) I figured, "Hey, why not. Let's see where this goes." I didn't expect to last long, no more than a few weeks. Long story short, it went much longer. Windemere, my first MD, went through several format and name changes, eventually winning a Trixie much to my surprise. But by around March 2012 I was getting lost. I had worked myself into several corners and my building style was again evolving. I felt my MD was losing focus, so I started work on a new region. It took several tries and several maps to land Holt District. As work on Holt District ramped up, and I began defining what it was going to be (fun fact, it's original working name was "Holt Coast" and was to be one of three regions) work on Windemere suffered, so it went into a hiatus in May. Holt District, after a few delays, launched in July 2012. I was super excited to launch it - it was a new beginning and I had a more clear picture of where I wanted to go. Windemere does, however, continue to this day. Just in a much more limited fashion. :)

Q: What do you think contributed to the loss of focus of Windemere? What advice do you have for MDers out there to avoid that?

A: I think the major thing was starting before I was ready and a low expectation of myself. I didn't expect Windemere to lost more than a month, so I figured starting with a blank game-generate flat region with only 2 partially-developed city tiles wouldn't impact me. As success built, I continued to randomly build whatever came to mind, often times the cities being completely separate from one another, despite being in the same region. In an effort to fix this I launched Taschereau as I grew frustrated with Windemere, and the MD became Windemere & Taschereau. Under this concept the MD flourished and it was this incarnation where it won a trixie. But, the problem cropped up again. I showed Taschereau too early and it, too, became a disorganized mess. Eventually I grew increasingly frustrated, made little progress and activity in my updates waned. The waning of activity was also partially because of the development of Holt District.

To those looking to start an MD I suggest not rushing to get out the door. Take your time, develop your region, or develop your storyline. Develop a plan and have an idea of where you want to go, as if it will continue forever. My biggest problem was doubting my MD would last over a month which has in reality been going for 17 months. Plan ahead, and don't rush. Although at first everything moves along, it'll come back to bite you. Take HD as an example - compare it to Windemere (especially in March/April 2012, it's IMO low point) - it is miles ahead because of months of development.

Q: What prompted you to use Twitter, external websites and keep the various statistics and data you keep?

A: I wanted to be different. A lot of the time MDs get lost in the pile. There are a lot of quality MDs in the entire community, so I wanted to differentiate in any way possible. I figured twitter would be the way to go. It'd do something no/few other MDs have done, and also allows me to provide quick snippets of information on the MD. Since Holt District is published in 5 spots across 4 sites the twitter feed makes it a lot easier to post something like "CTD, Update XY delayed for a day." It also allows me to post statement which may seem innocent enough, though most almost always have a deeper meaning.

It also allowed me to tease what Holt District was. The twitter feed launched ahead of the MD itself, so I could tease readers of my Windemere MD about the upcoming project. That was a lot of fun - I'm a big fan of teasers.  $%Grinno$%

Q: Which sites does Holt District appear on?

A: Holt District is published on 4 sites. On Simtropolis in the CJ Forum and CJ section, here on SC4D (obviously :P) as well as a smaller site known as Simmania. I also publish it on my own forum, Simopsis. Simmania and Simopsis are both on the smaller scale, but are definitely fun. Though I may be biased since Simopsis is my site and I'm part of Simmania's site staff. :P

{editors note: links to sites provided:
Holt District on Simopsis:
On Simmania:
Simtropolis CJ Forum:
ST CJ Section:
These links will take you outside SC4D. We have no control of what's out there, and may operate under different rules. You are responsible for your use of these links. Enjoy at your option.}

Q: What is the toughest thing about running a MD across multiple sites?

A: Well, the time it takes, obviously. I never want to leave one site in the dark, which sometimes leads to a long process for me. But probably more so trying to do something special for each version. I don't want each and every publication to be the exact same all the time, but for the most part things are constant. Each version gets a special extra when it hits a milestone (such as winning an award, hitting a replies market, etc.) or a special achievement, like the OSITM exclusives I've published. This is somewhat to encourage everyone to visit each version - each site Holt District is published on is unique. That and small things like BBCode - believe it or not there are differences between different forum software. Those can be a big pain to fix.

I've also been known to accidentally post the wrong replies to the wrong site. But when there are 5 versions to manage, these things happen. :P

Q: How long does an update usually take to prepare?

A: From taking photos being taken in the game to doing photo editing, writing the story lines, answering replies and posting it on all 5 publications, probably a good 2-3 hours. It's why compared to my first MD there are more mini-updates and teasers than large updated. RL has decided to give me less free time, so I do what I can. I'd rather fewer updates of better quality than several less-than-stellar updates.

Q: How in-depth do you plan your updates or gameplay? Is it preplanned, or do you make it up as you go?

A: Gameplay, as you may have noticed from the BoldNewHD plan I developed, is very much planned. While not every single building is placed in my mind, from the outset I had this idea of what Holt District would become. I knew from the onset it'd be a fast-growing region, that there would come a period where development is so rampant a plan would need to be developed, and that there would be new highways. The order these come up in isn't set it stone, though. Basically, I have a general idea of where I want to take Holt District, and what order stuff comes up depends on what I want to do in game. Sometimes I bend my gameplay to my storylines, but generally my storylines bend to my playing. I still like to play, so sometimes something that's already come up in an update gets pushed aside for a while as I do other things in the game.

Some storylines are spur-of-the moment, though that's generally just the random fun-facts that go with the pictures. The overall story-arch is planned in advance. I like to plan things, what can I say? :P

Q: What takes the most time to prepare?

A: Making the area I want to show off look like how I want. I can be very picky, and sometimes I'll demolish an area several times before it is done right. Although Holt District does follow a real flow in the sense that once a development occurs, it's there whether I like it down the line or now, but before you see it things change a lot. Fun fact about this: the current Sherkston city tile is the 6th incarnation. There were 5 versions of Sherkston before you ever saw it.
Answering replies also take a lot of time. I try to say something more than "Thanks!" Sometimes that is inevitable, but generally I make the effort to make a unique response. You took the time to read and respond, so the least I can do is a good reply. I will admit that replies sometimes do get delayed... but I do try to get to them!

Q: How do you decide when something is "ready" or "done" whether it's an area in your city, or an update?

A: If I'd want to look at it in an update, then it's done. If I wouldn't look at it, it isn't ready. Generally, my rule of thumb is "what's going to be developed in this area soon, should there be construction lots for it yet?" An area must also be fully developed - I'm not a huge fan (at least in HD) of showing empty zoning. If you see an empty zone in HD then I failed in the quality control department (which I'm known to do... I am human!)

Specifically for cities it is "Can I live with this for the rest of the MD's lifespan?" - once I show it (save for a tornado or natural disaster) that development is there to stay. If I saw "yes, I can live with that being there forever" then it's done. If it fails, it gets demolished and I start again. I'm not afraid to do that (just look at my answer to #7, 6th time is the charm, afterall.  :D) As for updates, they generally get published when the area they will showcase is ready. Sometimes 20 photos will be taken and only 8 will make it into the update. It depends how the storyline falls and the images themselves. Those that pass get the text editing and sometimes the colour editing treatments and make there way into updates!

Q: To what degree does photo editing play into your presentation? What is the goal of it for you?

A: I'd say the content of the pictures themselves are more important to me, but photo editing helps me to enhance the photo. If, for example, it is a fall day in the update I like to play up the warm lighting, make it feel more like a fall day, give the sense of the colours of the leaves bouncing back at you. In my most recent "Darkness" series I edit the pictures to play down the colours and up-play darker colours to enhance the feeling of the story, which is really what my goal is. It is to enhance the photos slightly, while keeping the focus on content. Occasionally you may see me go overboard, but usually that is on purpose. Usually.

Q: Where do you derive your inspiration for the game?

A: My inspiration for my cities comes from a number of places. Principally my newer developments are inspired by the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario (Canada) in general, as well as areas of Montreal, Quebec and Calgary, Alberta. Vancouver, BC also comes to mind. Some developments, particularly planned communities that are/will appear, are inspired by the Tampa area of Florida. Sometimes if I'm in a rut I go to one of the above places and look at the sprawl areas and mid-town areas to get ideas to use in HD. Particularly suburban sprawl areas, given that is what the major developments are going on right now. The BoldNewHD plan will be a mix of these cities, some other MDs and just random ideas I've gotten in my head. I play around with these ideas, and if they stick then you'll get to see some of them! The majority of my inspiration is from RL, though. (But a special shout out to Haljackey and Patricius_Maximus, who have definitely provided inspiration along the way, and to many other MDers as well!)

Q: Do you play the game as intended (following budgets and RCI demand)? Is it a sandbox for you? Do you use cheats? How?

A: I'll admit to no, I don't play the game as intended. I throw the budger and RCI out the window to allow me to play as I want to. So, in essence, it does become a sandbox to me. I will admit to enjoying more so having the ideas I have for cities in my head coming to fruition than making sure my budget is balanced. As for cheats, I do use the Radical Ordinance Mod, possibly the industry quadrupler (I'm honestly not sure... not trying to hide anything, honest!) and a few other mods that are hidden in the dark depths of my dis-organized plug-ins folder. But SC4 is definitely more a sandbox than a game to me. I manipulate it to achieve what I want to get done.

Q: What do you do in Real Life?

A: Not going to go into too much detail here, but I'm currently a university student. That keeps me pretty busy - weekly work, midterms, finals, projects. But I'm studying something I enjoy which makes it a little easier to swallow. I also in spare time follow the NHL (let's just say I was going to boycott this season because of the lockout... but that didn't happen... GO HABS!) I also like to keep tabs on business news and have recently found web design to be an interesting little side-hobby.

Q: Do your storylines you have ever change after reading comments or is the story set in stone?

A: You bet! If something falls flat you can count on me on avoiding it in the future. This is cumulative across all 5 versions. So just because 1 site doesn't have any replies to an update doesn't mean it won't appear. But if I get comments saying "Well, gee, this wasn't so hot." I'll probably fine tune things. The people reading Holt District do indeed have an impact, so if you think you don't, you're wrong. If I ingnore them I'm pretty sure I would soon find myself talking to myself.  :D

One thing that has been commented on is my skyscrapers in the middle of nowhere. Those have started to happen less frequently because people weren't huge fans. The ones under way stay, but new ones stay. The exception to this is if I know the skyscrapers will make sense in the longer run - then my stubbornness shows up. Sometimes the vision I have for an area doesn't quite get communicated. :P

Q: What thoughts do you have for people who are considering starting a Mayor's Diary?

A: Take the plunge! The community is very supportive. You may sometimes get that troll who doesn't like anything, but a lot of us are here to help, and interested in what you're seeing. I was one of those people who was skeptical - I thought I'd be MDing for a month, max. Now I've been MDing for over a year, almost a year and a half. If you're not sure it's a lot of fun or not, trust me, it is. I'm having a blast! And who knows? Maybe you'll be the next person doing an OSITM interview. ;)

Q: If you had the chance to start it again, would you change anything? If so, what?

A: Trees. I really should have treed the undeveloped portions of the region. I will admit, it looks funny out in undeveloped areas of Holt District. But I got antsy and said it wasn't needed. That's a major regret. Perhaps also doing a bit more of rural development. The transition from suburbs to rural areas is less than smooth, and seeing all the great rural scenery in MDs make me regret not doing it. Plus, who doesn't love watching nature get steamrolled for a new mega-stadium? :P Overall, though, especially compared to my first CJ I'm quite happy. I haven't given up yet, and I still have a lot of ideas.

Overall, though, I took my time. Holt District was developed from March to July 2012 - so it wasn't a super speedy skip-all-the-details sort of job.

Q: Will Holt District ever be done?

A: That's hard to say. Even once the entire region is developed I have a number of ideas. Urban renewal, redeveloping on a small scale, growing up, etc. are all plausible. I suppose the biggest threat to Holt District is RL and time. Without free time, it won't be possible to publish. But as for there being a specific "end" in planning, not that I can think of. I'm planning in the long term as if it won't end, even if there is the possibility it will. HD will just keep plugging away, growing and changing.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for everyone here sim_link, and congratulations on a successful month in OSITM.


A great interview on one of my favourite MDs yet! ;D Well done Matt!  &apls
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Another excellent interview, thanks to both Matt and sim_link!

Call me Robin, please.


Great interview guys! These are always so nice to read/view as you can learn more about "what makes a player tick" in this format than from dozens of updates. sim_link I really have to admire you for the energy to keep HD active in so many iterations simultaneously--and it's really cool that you make subtle differences between the different versions, particularly your OSITM stuff. My foray into multi-site MDing lasted all of one update (mainly because I, like you, didn't want to just do a copy-paste of the same thing in two places) and just getting the pictures, text, and replies for an update in one place is a chore that seems to drag on for hours for me  :D

In addition to the insight on your work I think you've also given some nice advice to would-be MDers. I wish the best of luck to you and HD and thanks so much for putting these together Matt  &apls