• Welcome to SC4 Devotion Forum Archives.

Calidore: A Steampunk Experiment

Started by Gayowulf, October 01, 2013, 12:48:00 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Hi there. I'm Alex, known as "Alafel" in the SimCity 4 and Sims 2 worlds, and "The Trippmeister" everywhere else on the internet.

You may (or may not) remember me from my last MD, Erastide. It's now inactive and I have no intention of continuing it -- if I do ever update it again, it will only be on the Simtropolis version (probably won't happen, though).

So... Calidore. Pronounced CAL-i-DOR-ay. Modification of the Latin "calido" which means roughly, according to Google Translate, "hot". You know, because steampunk... steam... steam is hot... eh, I just thought it sounded cool, so I went with it.

Anyway, if you hadn't guessed by the title, this MD will be an experiment. See, there's this excellent old steampunk MD picking up dust in the archives known as Endora, by the wonderfully talented Antimonycat. But it hasn't been updated since 2009, which is a shame, because it is truly a work of art. When I saw that it was long since abandoned, I started poking around for other steampunk MDs. I ran across Mightygoose's The Iron Coast, but that never really got off the ground and has been inactive since 2010 (although it's a veritable treasure trove of information about steampunkery). More recently, Mr.Lin came on the scene with The City of Danyard, but that one a) doesn't have quite as much steampunk feel as Endora, and b) is inactive. Since March. Dang, what is it about steampunk-y MDs that causes them to go inactive?!

So I figured, the time is ripe for another attempt. I present you:

There we are. Nice and cozy, 4x3 large city tiles. See the biggest problem I had with Erastide is that it was too big. Sure, I try to start a 3RR-sized region every other week, but do I ever actually finish them? Or, you know, get past one city tile? Nope. (Fun fact: I actually had, and still have on the books, plans for a region that I calculated was more than double the size of 3RR. The config file made it into SC4TF, and that's as far as it went.) I feel like this may have been the downfall of The Iron Coast as well. So, small it is!

Calidore is entirely terraformed by me. I sketched the coastlines on paper, scanned it into the GIMP, and fiddled with adding mountains (took ages to figure out a method that worked), and imported it into the Terraformer for final detailing. I'm actually surprised at how well it turned out. It's almost exactly what I wanted: islands for the main city, rivers, mostly flat with some very rugged mountains. Usually my Terraformer attempts end in shapeless blobs.

Oh, so now you want to see the hand-drawn map? Okay. Here ya go.

Ignore the railroads, those were a preliminary attempt that mean nothing. Although they do reveal a bit of the future; look at the dotted lines, those are tunnels. I'm thinking of adding some small, uninhabited islands around various parts of the coastline, just for decoration. What do you think?

Here's the basic map we'll be using throughout the MD as a reference. It is modified from a direct Terraformer export, so it's exactly to scale: one pixel on the map equals one grid square in game. The gray areas are mountains that are (in general) too steep to build on (though there are some places I'm thinking of for various features).

Calidore will be divided up into a set of (currently 20, subject to change) districts. Each one has a particular theme. On the following map, they are color-coded according to their approximate function, and numbered.

I've mostly followed standard RCI coloring, but here's a description of what I'm planning for each district. Names in bold are semi-official.

   I. The Core. Main downtown area, mixed RCI
   II. I & port. Some R.
   III. I & port. Some R.
   IV. R, medium and high density. Some I.
   V. R, medium and high density. Some I.
   VI. Wealthy R, parks, gardens, museums. Possibly a university.
   VII. R, suburbs. Some I.
   VIII. R, suburbs. Some I. Possibly mix in some Ag?
   IX. R, medium and high density. Some I.
   X. The Airstation. Not my first choice for the location... darn city boundaries...
   XI. Obscenely wealthy estate or two.
   XII. (Mostly) C district. Tertiary downtown area (with Airstation).
   XIII. Mixed R and I; medium and high density
   XIV. (Mostly) C district, some R, some I. Secondary downtown area.
   XV. Heavy I, possibly some ports.
   XVI. R, suburbs. Some I.
   XVII. R, medium and high density. Some I.
   XVIII. Heavy I.
   XIX. Mostly Ag, possibly some small towns.
   XX. Mostly Ag, possibly some small towns.

One of the first I'd like you to notice is the mixing of zone types. Steampunk worlds are often very gritty, with industry mixed right alongside residential areas, so I'll be trying to emulate this. Should to interesting things to pollution and desirability. Also it will be tough to fit in I-HT, since modern high tech doesn't really fit in a steampunk world. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve, though!

Of course, the district plan creates some challenges of its own, most notably in the rail network. Since the district lines mostly ignore the in-game city boundaries, we'll need a transportation network that can accomodate both the "reality" of the city's layout, and the game's quirks when it comes to handling commuters.

I should point out, there will be no highways, either Maxis or RHW, in this MD (probably). Well, what did you expect? It's a steampunk setting, for heavens' sake! Only the very wealthiest can afford cars. Everyone else uses, trains, buses, ships, airships, and their very own two feet. I may at some point try to tweak the traffic simulator to reflect that (I haven't played around with the NAM's custom traffic simulator options, so I don't know if that's possible).

TL;DR version of all that: RAIL. RULES. ALL.


Anybody here good with railroads? How does it look? Some things to keep in mind:
1. Any time two rail lines cross at a right angle, they do not exchange routes. They're usually even grade-separated.
2. I probably won't be using wide curves and FARR pieces. Almost certainly not in the downtown areas -- they just don't have the highly crowded feel I want for the cities. I'll explain it by saying they use shorter train cars, so they can turn more tightly?
3. There are four tunnels. Yes, two of them curve. No, that isn't a mistake. Can you spot them?
4. There are three main stations: Core (which is the station for the whole metropolis, and the oldest of the three), Airstation (the newest, build then the airstation was built), and As-yet-unnamed-downtown-area in the middle of the map.
5. Placement of other stations is subject to change. Yes, there are a lot of them, but keep in mind that RAIL. RULES. ALL., so there need to be a lot of stations for commuters. Also there will be plenty of freight depots, which aren't on the map.

Finally, I'll leave you with some shots from an earlier steampunk attempt I did in a throwaway region (which, incidentally, I had called Calidore... and I have now creatively renamed it to Old Calidore). And I never got around to letting it grow, so it's just empty zones and ploppables. But it will give you an idea of things to come, because its spirit lives on even in the terrain design of Calidore.

NOTE: In theory, you can click the pictures to zoom in for full resolution. But, I've never done that before, so I'm not entirely sure how to make that work. We'll see. If it doesn't work, you can always right-click and choose "View Image" or whatever your web browser of choice calls it. It seems to be working. All clear!

6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11.

(Yes, there is a sidewalk texture inconsistency. I was using the brown sandstone sidewalks, but I'm considering switching to the white concrete for all wealth levels. I build all of this under the sandstone regime, which is why it doesn't match. I'm currently going through the Lot Editor and updating all those retaining walls, too.)


My goal with this MD is, above all, exploration. I want to know just how far our beloved SC4 can be pushed to create a steampunk world. With that in mind, Calidore may turn out somewhat eclectic, as I try out different styles. I have some idea of where I want it to go, but all plans are subject to change. Also, I'll be asking for a lot of input, and possibly some collaboration at some point (who knows?). Unlike Erastide, I have no buffer on this one. Updates (travel log entries?) will be posted as soon as I complete them.

So pull on your hat, grab your trenchcoat, put on your goggles, grab your pocketwatch, and fire up the boilers on the old gyrocopter. Come with me, and let's go explore Calidore together!
Goodness me, it's been a while.
Once upon a (very long) time (ago) I was working on Calidore: A Steampunk Experiment... maybe that will happen again someday.

If you're thinking I used to have a different name on here... I did. It still me!


Very interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing where you take this. I might draw inspiration from this for my own CJ (I've been looking to do a steampunk themed region, but I haven't bit the bullet to figure out SUM and get organized).

So, good start. Glad you know where you want to take this, since that's key to any long-term endeavor having any real hope of success. Good luck.

And we have yet another Alex to add to the party! :D (I am referring of course, to you, and Xannepan, and Tarkus, and a bunch of other people whose usernames I've forgotten; My name isn't Alex, just to be clear)

Concerning rail, I might suggest you try the FARR and WRC pieces (or just the WRC, FARR currently is as you've said, a little too much space for the dense feel you're going for) before you completely dismiss them. For instance, using the rail viaduct WRC pieces has the impression (to me, at least) of a very dense city, despite the extra space it occupies, probably because it's elevated and partially because it's rail, where in California here we have very little rail around (so I'm not used to it as much). It'll go great lengths to adding realism (in a steampunk CJ you ask?!). I think, esp. after avoiding using the WRC for a very long time, that they also look better except in the middle of a ridiculously dense (and I mean ridiculously) dense industrial area.

Just a note, though, if railroads are going to rule, shouldn't they really rule? (with proper curves and grades and such?) Also note, I'm not so great with rail stuff, so you can take my words as you will. Just my thoughts on the matter.
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

My Mayor Diary San Diego: A Reinterpretation



I like the idea of a Steampunk region, and am looking forward to the first pictures. Like APSMS said, I'd use WRCs and viaducts because they can look great, even and especially in dense urban environments. You can hide the spare tiles wirth overhanging buildings.


I loved Edoria. i'm a fan of the steampunk atmosphere. I'm definitely looking forward to this.

Also, I'll echo what was said earlier. Use some rail viaducts, specially for the train station. elevate so that the rails do not cross five roads and one avenue... ;)
I'll take a quiet life... A handshake of carbon monoxide.

Props & Texture Catalog


Very neat. Really good job on freehanding that region together. The maps are well done, too.  :)


Well well well, this looks like a promising start indeed!
I'll follow it closely.


A wonderfull idea to which I had sat down already with not much success.  &ops
However I had some thoughts on the matter that might be of some use to you:  :thumbsup:
- Use Tram in Streets as much as you can, especially in densly packed residential neighbourhoods in the centre.
- W2W is king (but I see you know that already)
- Suburbs can be done beautifully if combined with trams and trains.
- Beware of the "road temptation". I know making trams and trains reach every part of the town is hard but its really worthwile (the road connections don't look any good in the steampunk environment)
- Ports and industrial areas are your strong points, show them any time you can/
- A Palace please! (with its own rail/tram yard ;D )

Other than that, a very big Good Luck to you sir! I will certainly watch this topic with great anticipation!

Oh, and PS: What are those beautiful medival-like walkways/walls (the ones surrounding the cathedral in the night photo)?


This is extremely well-planned out. I love the steampunk concept when applied to SC4, so I'm looking forward to more.
Click on the banner to celebrate!


Hello and welcome! I'm also looking forward to seeing where I take this, as I don't know yet! ;)
The next entry will focus on railroads, so I'll address this more there, but for now I'll say: I do use both WRC and FARR in my other cities, even in dense urban areas, but I have reasons for wanting to avoid both of them in the urban areas of Calidore -- more on this next time, but it mostly has to do with network width and sidewalk textures (I'll probably even be avoiding diagonal rails where possible). I'm not sure how I'll handle slopes yet, but they definitely won't be any steeper than my current slope mod allows!

Thanks, and welcome!

Welcome to Calidore! See my reply to APSMS above about railroads. Though I hadn't thought of overhanging buildings, there's an idea...

Thanks! Regarding railroads, check my reply to APSMS. Viaducts are definitely a big part of my plan, I can't get enough of them in steampunk cities!

Thank you for the compliment! I draw maps all the time when I'm bored, so drawing the region was pretty easy. Actually getting it into the game, on the other hand... that took a while! :D

Thanks very much! I hope it lives up to your expectations.

Welcome! Maybe if enough of us keep trying, someone will actually get a steampunk region built? :D
Thanks for the suggestions! I hadn't thought of tram-in-street; in fact I don't think I've ever used it before! Cool idea, though, I'll have to see what I can do with it. I'm not sure how I'll handle the suburbs yet, as I've never made a steampunk suburb before. I'm planning on encouraging bus travel as well as trains, so we'll see how that works out.
The walls are from Kazuki's Lot Exchange; they're the "Red Brick Plaza" set one up from the bottom. I modified them to have the sandstone texture instead, but it's a really quick Lot Editor fix to put in any texture you want.

Thank you! Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men... ;)

Welcome back to Calidore, everyone! Today's update will be a very short one as I do some final terraforming on the region to get it just right. Don't worry, though, the next update will be longer, and we'll nail down all this railroad business then!

Let's start with our region shot, just to remind us all what it looks like:

There are some areas that need attention. Okay, so most of them don't actually need attention, I just thought of some useless extra terrain features after I finished up in the Terraformer. But there is one functional area: the Airstation district.

Originally, I wanted to place the Airstation in the hilly coast to the west of The Core (facing the open ocean). But unfortunately, a city boundary runs directly through the area, making a large-scale project nigh impossible. So plan B is the peninsula east-southeast of The Core, facing into the bay. It needs some serious terraforming, though, because I want it to have some features of that coastline.

Here's the important part: a series of hills and cliffs down by the water.

And to make it a little more natural-looking, let's smooth out the hills connecting it to the mountains:

Well, that's that. All the other terraforming involved adding some decorative islands. None of them will have any serious development, but a few will have parks. Here's the whole region, terraforming completed:

Want to play this region? I've uploaded it to the STEX. This is my first upload, so if you decide to try it, I'd love some feedback!
You can get it HERE.

That's all, folks!

P.S. Just discovered this a few hours ago. Relevant to the interests of anyone reading a steampunk MD, and it's a thing that actually exists in the real world. And is 240 years old.
Goodness me, it's been a while.
Once upon a (very long) time (ago) I was working on Calidore: A Steampunk Experiment... maybe that will happen again someday.

If you're thinking I used to have a different name on here... I did. It still me!


Very exciting to see you return. I love the steampunk style of MD, and really wish it was something I was talented enough to pursue.
Click on the banner to celebrate!


Nice presentation, I'm looking forward to the developments!  :thumbsup:

Also, your video link reminded me of the Antikythera mechanism. In case you hadn't heard about it, it's basically a ~2100 years old mechanical calender. Here's a short video, very interesting.
time flies like a bird
fruit flies like a banana


Looking foward to see how this develops :)
You can call me Matt


You've done a great job with the map and I loved seeing the planning documents. I can't wait to see where you take things.