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Three Rivers Region

Started by dedgren, December 20, 2006, 07:57:49 PM

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Whoa! Those crop circles look amazing! Excellent work, mightgoose! And Yoman, that missile looks great, too! There's so many different things going on here, it's tough to keep up with them all!


Once again, I'm impressed by what's going on in 3RR. While David has (somehow) convinced other people to do the dirty work, he keeps making the story more cohesive every day. I wonder how slope-conforming these new fields are...



Well, our friend mightygoose has altered the trajectory a bit of the planned course of this post, so instead of continuing at the end of my last (which is here [linkie]), here goes

When I left off, I had just noted that, "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail."  As I know how to make textures and get them into the game through the use of the wonderful SC4Tool [linkie], then create basic lots using the Lot Editor, that's what I do.  You can see the pattern here- my ploppable water rapids and waterfalls are lots,

the seasonal trees we're using for 3RR are on lots,


and the not the RMIP runways I was working on are on lots.

Even the demo versions (before those Transit Gods Alex (Tarkus) and memo got their hands on them) of the wide-radius road curves were originally on lots.

So, surprise, surprise, when I first thought of doing central pivot irrigation fields...

* * *

We took a while longer to get back here- Heather's down at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona [linkie] and has surgery there tomorrow (the 25th), so I had a few things to which I needed to attend.  Thank for your patience.

* * *

Most of you know by now that we take a fairly close look at stuff we get interested in here at 3RR.  Center pivot agriculture farming has been no exception.  While the equipment end has pretty much been left to folks like Matt (threestooges), who is just doing amazing stuff with BATs [linkie], I realized very quickly that, while I had seen many, many CPI fields in my travels around the United States and Canada, I really had very little idea of how large they are in RL, what sort of crops are grown on them- that sort of thing.  So I started digging around the Internet, where, as it turns out, there's a wealth of information that just takes a little bit of effort to uncover.

The Wikipedia article [linkie], uncharacteristically, is brief to the point of not being helpful, but a bit of Googling followed by clicking link or two started turning articles like this one [linkie] up.  Another place where good concise historical info can be found is here [linkie]].  I'll leave reading these to the interested, and summarize what I think is necessary to know to get this sort of agriculture into the game.

Location.  Center pivot irrigation systems are widespread on the U.S. great plains and are associated there with the huge Ogallala Aquifer [linkie], which provides the vast amounts of water necessary.  They are also found in other dry, flat areas where substantial nearby water resources such as withdrawal from large rivers, lakes and reservoirs are available, hence CPIs are also located in the plains provinces of Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the eastern part of Alberta, in central Washington State near the Columbia River and in southern Colorado near Alamosa in the upper Rio Grande valley.

In 3RR, CPI fields are found in the following general locations.

Clockwise from the lower left, most of the region's CPI fields are found on the wide expanses of Broad Prairie south of the Wind River in Leaf and Broad Townships.  Because this area is in the rain shadow [linkie] of the Southern Range, it is too dry for many crops that well in other areas of 3RR.  On the other hand, the Broad Prairie's soil is extremely fertile and deep, making it worthwhile for central pivot agriculture to be employed.  Water for irrigation in this area is drawn from the Wind River just west of Boissevain into a 36"/95 cm pipeline built in the 1960s.

North across the Wind River, there are several areas of CPI fields along the southern edge of the prairie in Marsh and Prairie townships.  Here, the Pine Mountains to the west create a small rain shadow and the sandy soil drains very quickly, so supplemental irrigation has been used to make this area, which is particularly suited for growing sugar beets [linkie], more productive.  The water for the CPI units comes from deep wells drilled nearby.

The last area of central pivot irrigation fields is in the prairie near the rural hamlets of Grass Prairie and Woodstock east of the Grand River.  These are located in Low Light and Crooked Townships, and are just a few in number.  While the annual rainfall here is generally sufficient to support non-irrigated agriculture, the CPI fields allow consistent watering of crops to take place during dry years.  Water for these units is drawn from local deep wells.

Size.  Central pivot irrigation fields are monsters, even in the western plains, where everything tends to be a bit larger than life.  They are one of the few individual manmade features that can be viewed with the naked eye from earth orbit.  Here's a few Google Maps [linkie] shots.

This is a shot of an 80 mile/130 kilometer by 40 mile/65 kilometer area west of Dodge City in Kansas.  It's what the naked eye would see from about 16 miles/26 kilometers up in the air- about two and one-half times the altitude the average long-haul jetliner flies at.  There are over 1,000 individual CPI fields in the pic, most of which are about one-half mile/.8 kilometers in diameter.  At the lower center of the pic several huge one mile/1.6 kilometer in diameter CPI fields are visible.  This pattern is fairly typical of suitable areas over the Ogallala Aquifer.

This pic would neatly cover two Three Rivers Regions sitting side by side.

Here's the floor of the San Luis Valley just north of Alamosa, Colorado from about 21,000 feet/6,400 meters, which is the height many short-haul airline routes (Seattle to Helena, Montana, for instance) in the U.S. are flown at.  Note that these are half mile/.8 kilometers in diameter CPI fields, as well, laid out within the pre-existing one-mile/1.6 kilometer square rural road grid.  Before the advent of CPI, this was all open rangeland, as it was too dry to farm otherwise.

The total area of this pic is a little over 10 by 20 miles/16 by 32 kilometers.  That's eight 3RR townships, which are in turn 16 quads (large city squares).  The size of a single quad is outlined in green.  Superimposed on 3RR, this pic would cover one-eighth of the region.  There's about 800 CPI fields that are visible here.

These are CPI fields in the Grand Coulee area of central Washington State just west of Moses Lake.  You'd see this from about 10,000 feet/3,200 meters, which is the altitude after takeoff that you're allowed to take out your Ipod or PC and use them.  These fields are our familiar one-half mile/.8 kilometers across (we've positioned the scale bar in the lower left-hand corner to point this out), and the area covered by the pic is just under five miles/eight kilometers by ten miles/16 kilometers.  Note that the character of the underlying land shows up in the corners of the circles fairly uniformly.  Also note the appearance of several "mini" CPI fields in places where four complete corners are available, this done to maximize the land under cultivation.

This pic would just about completely cover two adjacent 3RR townships, which would be eight quads.

This pic is of center pivot irrigation fields along the Sun River west of Great Falls, Montana.  It is taken from the same altitude as the last one: 10,000 feet/3,200 meters.  Here, there is little available flat land in the valley for the fields.  They are generally made larger in size- up to just under a mile/1.6 kilometers in diameter, and no longer are organized into a neat grid.  The size of these biggest fields is noteworthy.  Accurately scaled, you could only fit four of them into a 3RR quad.

Now, as Monty Python [linkie] famously said, for something a little bit different.  CPI "crop circles" are quite uncommon in the United States east of the Mississippi River.  There are a few in Illinois. as our friend Al (Gaston) has pointed out, but that's about it.  Except, were you to be flying at about 10,000 feet/3,200 meters altitude just east of the city of Muskegon, Michigan, which is on the western side of the state near Lake Michigan, you could look out the window and see the area shown in the pic above.  Smaller than usual "crop circles" adjacent to some rather odd looking lakes.  This is the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System, an 11,000 acre/4,450 hectare area of "aeration and settling basins, storage lagoons, and irrigated cropland" [linkie].  Yes, those are CPI fields, irrigated with (urgggh!) wastewater.  We've circled in green a few of the smallest ones- these are slightly larger than one-quarter mile/400 meters across.

Here's a few detail pics of the area.

As you can see, there would appear to be no issue with trees growing in the corners of CPI fields.

So, with the average size of RL CPI fields being one-half mile/800 meters in diameter, what is the best size for an SC4 quad?  After looking, I concluded for several reasons that simply "scaling down" the RL size was not a good idea.

Remember the basics of SC4 "game" measurement.  A quad (again, the large city square that 3RR is made up of) measures two and one-half miles/four kilometers on a side.  A quad is an area that is 256x256 gridsquares.  Although it's not precise (but then, nobody is using these measurements for critical, such as civil engineering, applications), I use the following submeasurements in 3RR's quads.

50 feet
16 meters
3,000 feet
1 kilometer
1 mile
1,600 meters

A half-mile/800 meter wide CPI field, then, would have to be a lot about 50 gridsquares on a side.  Disregarding that I don't know whether such large lots are even possible to create in the Lot Editor, I had the clear concern that such a large field plopped into the game would simply dwarf everything around it, and to no particular visual purpose, as in all but the most distant views some of the field would be off screen.  There would also be a huge amount of space taken up in the corners that, even with some creative lotmaking and plopping, would be a pain to deal with.

Looking at the textures that needed to be created left me absolutely convinced I was correct in this approach.  When I tried a 24x24 (one-quarter mile/400 meter) field, I came up with 63 unique textures I had to create.

That's a real pain.  But a 48x48 field would have approached, if I calculated correctly, 200 individual textures.  Like they say in Noo Yawk- FUGEDDABOUDIT!

Now, as folks have seen- these are not small lots.  We're still a bit away from developing an integrated rural demo quad including CPI fields, but I think that when you see what these look like in the game, you will be amazed, and size-wise they'll fit right in.  As everyone knows, we have also done a 12x12 version- these are one-eighth mile/200 meters square.  They should look pretty good in folks' quads/city squares where smaller scale agriculture dominates the scene.


You might recall, from the backstory, that only a few crops will grow in 3RR.  These are wheat [linkie], corn [linkie], soybeans [linkie], barley [linkie], flax [linkie], canola [linkie] and the aforementioned sugar beets.  Alfalfa [linkie] is grown for hay and silage.  White or red clover [linkie] is often planted as "green manure."  The crops most frequently grown on 3RR CPI fields tend to be the most drought-sensitive and high value, hence soybeans and sugar beets predominate.

Both soybeans and sugar beets are low-growing crops, at most reaching about two feet/35 centimeters in height.  At game view levels at an average screen resolution of 96 dpi, this ranges in scale height from negligible to at most a few pixels.  This gives me some concern that mightygoose's incredible efforts to create BATs of something so tiny might be an effort that is far out of proportion to any benefit that might be gained.  One thing I do think is that, as opposed to BATting those individual little squares, it might be worthwhile to look at a series of low, roughly textured concentric rings.  Just a thought from a non-BATter.

What I went ahead and did, after looking at pics of a bunch of sugar beet and soybean fields, is develop a second CPI field texture- the first one having been intended to look like plowed dirt.  I tried to capture a leafy, low to the ground look.

I think they worked out pretty well based on pulling close in.

And, pulling back, here's what they look like in the testbed.

So, there you have it.  I'll be consulting with folks who know a little bit about LOTting so we can get these into the game ASAP.  I'm hoping we can come up with a bunch of other stuff, corn cribs, silos, tanks and the like, to make ploppable along with Matt's great windmills and cattle guards.  I've got some other ideas for accessory lots that we'll explore in a future post.

This was a long one- thanks for bearing with me.

D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


Not the RIMP runways? You forget what board those topics are in now :P

Those runways are now Not the RIMP Runways ;)

MOD EDIT:Yoman, those runways are still Not the RMIP Runways - Fred  ;)

EDIT: Not yet, anyway- folks will be happy to know, though, that they are now in the very, very capable hands of the AC Team for final work prior to uploading. -DE)

EDIT - Last I checked your both part of the AC for your work on them :D


Speaking of those Not the RMIP runways, its been a while since we've seen an update.  %wrd



What's this? So you have plans for putting the CPI fields not on lots but something better?
The most astounding and unique aspect of the human race is our fervent application of our ingenuity to kill each other, thus completely defying the near-universally proven fact that the ultimate goal of a member of a species is to ensure the survival of the species.


David that is just Wonderful stuff there and from me and vicki we wish heather the speedist recovery and are prayin that she does well....

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


if im right the lot version requires 11 custom textures..... wishing heather a swift recorvery too....

plus just looking at the daylight map at 6AM here.... i noticed that the sun is currently setting on 3RR.... lol


the latlong system [linkie] co-ordinates supplierd by david in the depths of this thread identified the location of 3RR on my map. see the red dot, well thats about 20 miles north of Pineshore....
NAM + CAM + RAM + SAM, that's how I roll....


Yes, great stuff there, David!

Looking forward to more.......................


Impressive farms mightygoose! 8 hour renders?! wow. Crazy. Moire patterns seem to be the real bane here. Are they avoidable?


Re: Three Rivers Region
« Reply #2506 on: January 07, 2008, 12:27:59 AM »
those fields are simply stunning... =O

Amazing work as always! =)

EDIT: I wish I could stake a claim to Des Plaines, but I don't think my laptop will handle SimCity 4 very well, especially since it is Windows Vista Home Premium. Feeling like if I should downgrade or dual install or something... >.<

- Allan Kuan

EDIT:  Allan: I also use WVHP on my lugtop, which is a middling good HP Pavilion.  While I'm no MS fan [linkie], I've never had any issue involving either slowness or instability while SC4 is running, and I frequently am doing that while running other resource-intensive programs like Paint Shop Pro.  Des Plaines is yours for the asking, my friend. -DE
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 09:26:11 AM by dedgren »

Hmm... and i forgot to add... I have only 1 GB of RAM... >.<

But I'll try to see if this can work...

- Allan Kuan


Very incredible progress!


I'm still completing my last post on CPI fields.  It's back here [linkie].

I've been completing something else as well...

Crop circles... coming soon to a plugins folder near you.

D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


I've been completing something else as well...

How sinister! I wonder what it is...

Crop circles are looking great, my friend! I'll be awaiting their completion.


EDITHeh!  You're looking at it, Dustin.  Maybe it's particularly nifty to me because I've seen more of it, but now we have a nice "growing" crop texture to go with the dirt one. -DE

EDIT: I see'em now, David! Excellent job!



These fields are amazing. I'm sure I've said it before, but damn I'm impressed.

I'll be patiently waiting for more.



David: I want to thank you for your fabulous work on the crop circles, its amazing to see you doing more than 50 textures for it, it must be a pain... just saying excellent work as always  &apls

Take care


Just another teaser, this time with the three great props Matt (threestooges) has created.

I'm going to spend some time today to see if I can at least turn the windmill and cattle guard into ploppables.  Anyone up for BATting a grain elevator?

Grain elevator on the Highland Spur Line, Wheaton

There's some good pics of these prairie icons here [linkie].


D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


I suppose I can take a stab at a grain elevator (or at least one version of one, I'm sure others might have their own ideas). Also, I'll open the door to a new honors post here (good luck to whoever it is).


Welcome to page 1     3      6         !!!!

That is looking really nice, David!!
Wonderful teasers there!!

btw, this is my 4000th post
         and the 2700th post in 3RR!!


Those farms look splendid with Matt's props on them, David! Things seem like they're coming together, my friend!

And it looks like bat snagged 2700, too! And his 4000th post! Congratulations, my friend!