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How to modify the transparency of your water

Started by noahclem, April 20, 2012, 05:42:11 AM

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I've received a few requests for a tutorial on the process of how I've created the appearance of my water in Siilijoki and thought the subject warranted a tutorial. I suggest it to my readers frequently but my tips don't do much good to players that aren't familiar with the reader. Hopefully this helps.

For a long time I was frustrated with the depth of water transparency in SC4--sure in some beautiful tropical areas you can see through clear water to view the details on the bottom, but in temperate or boreal areas it doesn't make much sense to see ~30 meters down. Making a change to a single property in my terrain mod controller file made me much happier with the appearance of my water. Here's how:

--It never hurts to make backups before you start playing around with files in the Reader--

1) To edit your water's transparency, first open up your terrain controller in Ilive's Reader.

--If you use one of CP's terrain mods the file should be called CPT_No6_MeadowShireTerrainController_Essential (if not Meadowshire than I assume replace the name "MeadowShire" with whatever other CP terrain mod you're using.

--If you use the Pyrenean Terrain Mod the file is called "zzz_TSC_Orange_PyreneanTerrainHightSnow"

--All other terrain mods will have a similar file, though with a different name. I'll likely edit that information in later.

2) If you don't normally use the reader you may have to right-click and manually select the reader as the program to open it with.

3) Once you've opened the file in the reader click "fill the list" if you don't have auto-fill enabled.

4) Next, click on the first exemplar file (light highlight in the left column in the following picture, circled in red). **For PTM users select the second exemplar file**

5) Then choose the "WaterDepthForMaxAlpha" property highlighted and circled in red at right here by double-clicking.

After double-clicking you should see something like this:

6) Change the value in the box circled in red with a "1" next to it to whatever you desire. I use 9 meters (as you can see in my picture), but anything in that area should provide a similar result (9 just happens to be my favorite number but also just about perfect for my purposes)--you may want to experiment to find what you most prefer.

7) Next, click the "apply" buttons, first the one circled next to the "2", then the one circled next to the "3".

8) Now, go to "file" and "save" and choose "yes" to overwrite the old file.

9) Go ahead and quit reader, fire up SC4, and you should be able to see the changes you've made in your water  :thumbsup:

I use Drunk Apple's darkblue water mod (see my "frequently requested links" for a link) but this technique will look nice with a very wide variety of water mods.

Here are examples of what editing the my water's transparency have allowed me to do:

Note that the water in the river looks as nice as the deeper water at the bottom, even though it is shallow enough to have L2 viaducts used as bridges. To do that, you'll have to remove your water or change its level, see tutorial here

Here is an example of ploppable water easily transitioning into game water:

And an example of extra-shallow water (min depth around 5m)

Small warning: shallow water will show shadows from boats, etc, in a way that may not look nice without transparent water. This is easy to ignore or photoshop away.

For more information on what the other properties in this same file do and what effects changes you make to them will have, see LowKey33's post here: Exemplars Related to Terrain

I hope this is helpful and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for additional information I should include here  ;)


Thanks for tutorial. 
Some times iLive can be an unnecessarily scary program.
K-point for you!!

Robin &apls
Call me Robin, please.


Thanks, I always wanted to know how do that. Just great!


....Uploading the MFP 1.... (.........Finishing the MFP1)


Good tutorial!
Your water has always intrigued me. And I like it a lot. :)

                                    Links to SC4 websites


A great tutorial indeed. Thanks for sharing! :thumbsup:

The Deltan Empire is here! Click the Banner to have a look! | Kanalka City, Capital of the Barrier Islands

PlayStation Network ID: theapeguy


Thanks for the encouragement Robin, Fred, Kergelen, and Alex!!

I was just back here fixing the link in my sig and remembered I'd forgotten to let you know I appreciate the kind words  :thumbsup:


Well, thank you too Noah!
I always disliked the unrealistic view of my waters too.


This is really cool, thanks a lot. Now i can change this easily.  :thumbsup:
Greetz, Carl


I dont like posting in 6 year old topics .... but this tutorial could / does require an update because of a stupid photobucket policy.
~ NAM Team Member


@Kitsune, you are quite right. But how @noahclem didn't know about the photobucket bork?
« Essayez d'apprendre quelque chose sur tout et tout sur quelque chose. »
             « Try to learn something about everything and everything about something »
                          « Trata de aprender algo sobre todo y todo sobre algo »
                                                                                                    — Thomas Henry Huxley


They most likely forgot about this post - as it was made about 3-4 years before the great photobucket meltdown.
~ NAM Team Member


There's a "Photobucket Hotlink Fix" Addon for Chrome and Firefox. Just install it, and you can see the pictures again. :)


Is that one where the guy was injecting his amazon affiliate code into anything you buy on Amazon ?
~ NAM Team Member


Hmm, after some reading, I think it did, but that "feature" was removed in the current version, as far as I can see.