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Terraforming Teton

Started by pvarcoe, January 01, 2007, 02:58:29 PM

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Welcome to Terraforming Teton. In this diary, I will chronicle the evolution of Teton Valley.

Let me begin by way of some background information:

First of all, this region is based on the excellent map produced by beskhu3epnm of the NHP Mapping group. I can't emphasize strongly enough how impressed I am with the accurate real world 1:1 scale maps being produced by NHP. This map is available on the Stex and is called "NHP Grand Teton National Park". It can be found at this link.

Here is the screenshot that is supplied with the download. I have scaled it down to 800p wide.

This map impressed me because I love working with mountains, and the Teton range is a beauty. The broad valley laying below the mountain range will be perfect for introducing some civilization. I am not concerned with making this an accurate re-creation of the region in terms of town and roads (of which there is acually very little). Rather I see this region as a gorgeous spot to develop my own little area. I can envision a couple of small to medium cities, lots of smaller towns, plenty of farmland carved out of forested areas, and of course light development into the mountains themselves.

But before developing any civilization, I need to get the landscape just right(for me). There are couple of changes I immediately want to introduce before major terrain completion. By completion I mean trees, rivers, etc.
I want to have some in-game water, of which there is currently none.
And I would like to lower the snow line slightly as well.

The in-game water was a particular challenge. Thinking it impossible, I tried to create a large lake using ploppable water. As good as those water plops are, a large body of water didn't look very real, and it was literaly taking forever.

You can see the beginnings of this in the next shot.

So I started a thread on this site in the help forum to see what other ideas and options were out there.
Several solutions were suggested and in my next update, I will detail just what my next steps were.

In addition to the water dilema, I needed to decided on a water mod (cmon, plain maxis water just won't do). Plus I have been fooling with multiple terrain mods and tree controllers. Little did I know that the choices before me would impact elevation, snowcapped mods, and available trees as well.

Anyway, more of that in the next few updates as well of lots more pics.
Thanks for checking Terraforming Teton out!


impressive map. Looking forward to more.  :thumbsup:
Kettle's on. Milk? Sugars?    ps I don't like Earl Grey  $%Grinno$%
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - If you're not part of the solution , you're part of the problem!
"Never knock on Death's door: Ring the bell and run away! Death really hates that!"
Tales at TeaTime      Now A proper NUT      TTC plays GRV II



Thanks for joining us in the Mayor's Diaries.  You've picked some beautiful terrain by master map makers.  Can't wait to see how you develop it.
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


Very interesting. Looking forward to see how this developpes  :thumbsup:
Check my MD:               


Very great map. Looking forward to more!


Very nice looking region, it looks great with trees. Can't wait to see how this develops   &apls

In the help thread you posted:
can I create a individual sea level for each city within the region

I belive that the next version of the SC4 startup manger will have the ability to load diffrent plugins for diffrent cities, not just regions. This should make it possible to apply a diffrent water level to certain cities in the region.


Wow! Impressive region...I can't wait to see more of your terraforming work! Good job ;)


Looks great, can't wait to see more!  :thumbsup:


Thanks folks for the kind replies!

TheTeaCat - Thanks for cheking in.
dedgren - I appreciate the welcome. You cj is a source of inspiration for me. I especially love the map stuff.
sebes - Hi sebes, and welcome here.
bat - Thanks, It is a very impressive map by NHP, lots of fun to work with.
mjig_dudy - Thanks for the suggestion. I had kind of wondered about that solution as well. In an upcoming update I will detail out the solution I decided on.
LP_Green - Welcome to Teton LP_Green.
your_adress_here - Welcome, I hope to have an update in the next day or two.

This is not really an update, just replies and a little more background information.
Some people may want to know the size of this region. It is 12 large city tiles by 6 large city tiles. I believe that makes this an area 48k x 24k.
So needless to say, there is a ton of room.

As I mentioned in the first update, this is created from an NHP map. For those wanting to experiment with these maps, its quite easy.
- Download the desired file.
- Unzip it (duh)
- You will want to have SC Mapper if you don't have sc4 Terraformer. It is linked on this thread.
- Follow the instructions supplied with the downloaded map.
- Basically the actual map file is a SC4M file and you open it in Mapper.
- In Mapper you then select "Create Region".
- A new region will be saved in your regions directory, and is ready for you to fire up Sim City and begin to open and save your cities.

But, before I opened the region in Sim City4, I did a few things. I moved the contents of my entire plugins directory elsewhere. So I started with a completely clean game. Boy does it load fast with no plugins .....Ahh well. Then I installed the Columbus Terrain Mod (found here). This was recommended in the readme that came with the map. This is the installer version of the Columbus Mod from 2005. An excellent place to start.

Next, also supplied with the NHP Teton map was a "Snowcapped" file. This file works with the Columbus terrain mod and controls the elevation that the snow will appear. I placed this file in the same folder as the Columbus Terrain Mod. I then opened and then saved each city tile in this region (that's right 72 tiles) and got the result you see in the first screenshot. It worked beautifully. You should achieve the same results working with the NHP maps following these steps.

Till the next Update, thanks for checking in.


If I didn't had already 3 great maps on hands, that would be a great choice for me. The map looks wonderful. I can't wait to see what will pop from it ;)


Looking really excellent so far. Hope to see more soon.

BlackwaterEmil's inn
Berethor ♦ beskhu3epnm ♦ blade2k5 ♦ dmscopio ♦ dedgren
♦ Emilin ♦ Ennedi ♦ Heblem ♦ jplumbley ♦ moganite ♦ M4346 ♦
papab2000 ♦ Shadow Assassin ♦ Tarkus ♦ wouanagaine


very nice terraforming and a great map


That really is a beautiful map!  Looking forward to seeing what you can do with it.  The pic with the trees added looks great!


Water, water, water, and trees

I mentioned before about my ploppable water dilema. At the same time, I had also begun to plop some trees using the God Mode Tree thingy. When I had installed the Columbus Terrain Mod, it included the abilty to select a custom (included) variety of tree. I selected the Lodgepole pine trees. After ploppling water and trees for a bit, I came to two conclusions. The ploppable water didn't really work for me, and the lodgepole pines were too "all the same" as in only 1 variety of trees. The reason I mention both these issues at the same time is, the eventual solutions were related.

After posting my questions about water and receiving some answers I tried a few things. The first thing I did was establish (using the ctrl x "terrainquery") the elevation of the valley floor at the south end. The elevation was about 1800 meters (roughly 5400 ft above sea level). I thought that perhaps I could raise the sea level to 1800 meters and create game water that way. But as the valley floor gradually increased to above 2000 meters at the north end, I would need to use different sea levels for different city tiles.

Now I had figured out that using reader to tweak the "supplied" snowcapped file, I could adjust the sea level. But I would need to create a different snowcapped file for each different sea level required. And then remember to load the correct one with the corresponding city tile.

Plus, I wasn't sure if adjusting the sea level would change the snow elevation; or whether varying sea levels would affect the columbus terrain mod in terms of how it applied it's ground textures. After much experimenting, I wasn't happy with the results.

Here's a shot with the sea level at about 200 meters. It has created a lake in the depression. But it required the use of two different sea levels in adjoining cities, and from the screenshot you can see it didn't quite work. The lake shoulded have been just the oval, not continuing to the left. I realise some tricky terraforming might have fixed this up, but I'm trying to keep the map in fairly original shape??

As well as not being satisfied with my water results, my trees were fairing no better. The "all lodgepole pine" was a little too uniform for me.

I didn't save many shots of those but this one sorta shows what I mean. All trees on the map were the same, just different densities depending on how heavy I plopped them.

While my water woes remained, I changed directions and fiddled with the terrain mods. Recently new downloads have become available from cycledogg. Many can be found on this site in the downloads area. The ones that caught my eye were the terrain mods - Missouri Breaks and the Meadowshire Terrain Mod, and Tree controller mods - Olympic and Meadowshire River Trees.

I settled on the Meadowshire Terrain Mod. Has a great abundance of textures and I like the cliff and rock textures too. You can really mix and match components of these terrain mods, but read the readme carefully first!

Then I began to experiment with tree controllers. To my dismay I couldn't get the god mode tree plopper to plop barely any trees in my region and city tiles, no matter how hard I tried. Then it hit me...this was all related to elevation. This revelation led me quickly to my solution.

I imported the region into SC4 terraformer. I used a tool in terraformer to lower the elevation for the entire region by over 1500 meters. This place the south end of the valley floor just below sea level at 250 meters. I saved the region. I then had to open each city tile again in Sim City4 (yes 72 tiles) and save them. I now had the large lake at the south end of the valley. As well, it would not take much terraforming to introduce water even further up the valley.

Then I began to experiment with tree mods and they worked...sorta. After re reading the readme supplied with the Meadowshire Terrain Mod, I realized that the mod was supplied with two optional snowcapped files (you can only use one at a time). A higher snow line version or the lower snow line version. As well, the file also controlls how far up in elevation the trees will populate. After experimenting I settled on the higher snow line version and went to town trying the tree controllers.

After lots of playing and further experimenting I decided on the Olympic tree controller. It has a great mix of vegetation, even if some varieties of trees are not native to the area.

Here's a couple of teaser pics to show a bit what the trees can look like.

And perhaps one showing a little water

Well, this has been a very long winded update.
Thanks for your patience and I hope you're enjoying the results!


Thats looking awesome pvarcoe!!  The way you ay your trees out is so realistic!!  When Beskhu3epnm sees this he will go nuts, that someone can do such a good job playing on his map. 

It is a great compliment to NHP that one of our maps is being shown in a CJ or MD, thank you!
"You learn something new everyday."

Bringing the new horizons closer to reality.

Berethor ♦ beskhu3epnm ♦ blade2k5 ♦ dmscopio jplumbley ♦ moganite ♦ M4346 ♦ Dedgren ♦ Ennedi Shadow Assassin ♦  Tarkus ♦ wouanagaine
Street Addon Mod - SAM


This looks great! I'm glad you were able to overcome all your problems with the trees and water. Looking forward to seeing more.



Wow! That does really look great! And the reading is never "long and winding"... it's like reading an indepth tutorial on terraforming (which in my case is very well needed).  :thumbsup:

BlackwaterEmil's inn
Berethor ♦ beskhu3epnm ♦ blade2k5 ♦ dmscopio ♦ dedgren
♦ Emilin ♦ Ennedi ♦ Heblem ♦ jplumbley ♦ moganite ♦ M4346 ♦
papab2000 ♦ Shadow Assassin ♦ Tarkus ♦ wouanagaine

Alek King of SC4

i also highly recomend the italia terrain and trees i had awesome success with those, very massive variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and textures, better get those dependencies though.  %BUd%


Alek is right, the Italia Terrain Mod is awesome as well, specially when you have to plant flora on high terrain, above snow line, it's mostly shrubs which is quite realistic.