2 June 2016: Update on SC4 Devotion Server Move

EDIT: As of 7 June 2016, the site is back up and running.  Thanks to everyone for their patience, and to Jeronij for his valiant and patient efforts battling the technical issues.

As many of you in the community have noticed, the SC4 Devotion forums have been in “Maintenance Mode” for awhile now, with a message about the site being moved to a new server.  The process was started on May 23rd, and while we hoped that it would be a smooth process that would take a couple of days at the most, it has unfortunately turned into a very complicated process, which Jeronij, the site owner and webmaster, is still working to resolve.  I’ve been trying to relay what I do know about the process in a thread over at Simtropolis (thanks to their staff for their support while we’ve been down), and thought I would also try to answer some of the common questions I’ve encountered from community members during our downtime.

Unfortunately, I don’t know that much, as the process is largely something that only Jeronij can do as the site owner, but I have had some communication with him since the closure, and will do my best to shed a little bit of light on things.

When will the forums be back?

The reopening of the forums is entirely contingent on getting the new server operational.  The URL still points to the old server at present, and Jeronij is waiting to get the new server fully up and running before requesting the DNS change to point to it.

There is no reliable estimate that we can give as to when the forums will be back.  Jeronij indicated that any post made after the move was initiated would most likely get wiped out upon its completion, and locking down the forums was a safeguard, to prevent anyone from losing a Mayor’s Diary update, or some other equally critical forum post.

What is the issue with the new server?

There are some database issues across the board on the new server, and in particular, the LEX is completely inoperable.  The site owner has been working with our webhost’s technical support team to attempt to resolve the issues since May 23rd.

 

Is the LEX still open?

The LEX isn’t locked down right now, but it’s only partially open.  Anyone looking to upload a new file to the LEX should refrain from doing so until after the server move has been completed, as anything uploaded after the forum lockdown (May 23rd) will also likely hit the bit bucket, as will any LEX comments made after that date.  Uploading/commenting would have been locked, but there is no mechanism available to do so in the LEX Admin Panel.

Is the LEX on a different server than the forums?

No.  The entire site exists on the same server.  If we were to request the DNS change before the issues were resolved, the LEX would be completely knocked out, preventing access to a number of dependencies used cross-site.  It would effectively drive the community to a halt more than the current forum closure would.

Can’t you partially reopen the forums, perhaps in read-only mode?

There’s no reasonable mechanism by which to do so with our forum software.

Is this going to turn into another SimPeg?

No.  SimPeg suffered catastrophic database failure and lacked a backup, meaning the site was completely lost (save for a majority of the files on their exchange, which had been mirrored at Simtropolis).  While there are database issues on the new server, the old server is still up, and there are backups.

 

Hopefully, this helps give you a little better idea of where things currently stand.  We hope to be back up soon, and the staff thanks you for your patience while our webmaster valiantly slays the technical gremlins.

-Tarkus

EDIT: As of 7 June 2016, the site is back up and running.  Thanks to everyone for their patience, and to Jeronij for his valiant and patient efforts battling the technical issues.

NAM 34 Gets Mac OS X Bundle Release with CAM 2.1.0

Thanks to the efforts of an enterprising new member at SC4 Devotion, Mero90, Mac OS X users can once again enjoy the latest NAM release.  Like the previous NAM 32.1 release, this new package is set up as a Wineskin port of the Windows installer.  Due to the fact that the new CAM 2.1.0 release by InvisiChem also needed a Mac installer (yes, there’s a new CAM, too!), and the large file overhead from Wineskins, both NAM 34 and the new CAM are included as a bundle, though there is no requirement that users install both.  As this package was built using the newest Wineskin engine on El Capitan, it also marks the first time that the NAM can run properly on that version of OS X, since the previous NAM 32.1 installer was stymied by the new Security Integrity Protection (SIP, AKA “Rootless”) feature.

The new bundle is available at both the SC4D LEX and ModDB, and runs about 363MB.  It is doubly compressed in order to keep the filesize and bandwidth consumption down, so like before with NAM 32.1, you’ll need an app that can open .7z files.  Mero90 has created his own support thread for the bundle at SC4D, which can be found here, and contains more information about installation and the like.

-Tarkus

NAM 34 Now Available

We’ve finally done it–landed a NAM release on December 25th, just in time to give your copy of SimCity 4 a Christmas stocking stuffer.  Just one short month after our last release, NAM 34 is here, with a few exciting new features.  The release announcement thread with more details is here.

The download is presently up at the SC4 Devotion LEX and Simtropolis STEX.  ModDB doesn’t yet have it, but will quite soon (I’ll update this post once that happens).

Enjoy the release and the holiday!

-Tarkus

Gobble Up The NAM 33 Official Release

It’s finally here.  After a nearly two-year development cycle (phew!), the NAM 33 official release has finally arrived, just in time for Thanksgiving here in the US.  The official announcement can be read at SC4 Devotion, here.  There’s a couple of very interesting surprise features that have made their way in since the pre-release from this summer . . .

nam33new

Download Links

ModDB

SC4 Devotion

Simtropolis

Note that there is no Mac version presently.  Mac support is on hiatus due to a lack of personnel, and issues created by the new features of OS X El Capitan, which have blocked the existing NAM 32.1 Wineskin-based installer from running.

-Tarkus

The RealHighway (RHW) System Turns 10

Ten years ago, on November 16, 2005, the first ever public build of what was then called the Rural Highway Mod, or RHW, was unleashed.  It was a simple proof of concept, for a new, modular highway system, with a limited set of features.  Based on initial ideas from modding pioneer Teirusu, it was ultimately seen through by qurlix, with texture work by nooneatall and Zeddic.

It couldn’t even really do interchanges then.  There were two puzzle pieces, and only Rails and Streets could intersect it at-grade.  (This was my personal first interchange that attempted to use the RHW . . . complete with lack of slope mod.)

From that limited set of features, some of us who tried out the mod in its early days saw a glimmer of amazing potential, for a new modular highway system, and the ability to cause the game’s default networks to behave in new ways, helping bring about the draggable revolution that has changed the landscape of SC4 transit mods.

Ten years later, the RHW–now RealHighway, as it has long surpassed merely being “rural”–is still going.

It’s been an amazing ride–thanks to everyone who has supported this project over the past decade, and to all the other developers and contributors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, who have helped pave this road.  Here’s to many more years of the highway revolution.

-Tarkus

Update on the status of NAM 33’s full release (and some more bad news for Mac users)

As you may know, NAM 33’s Pre-Release has been available from SC4 Devotion’s LEX since the end of July, and we have been working toward a finalized “official” NAM 33 build since that time.  That finalization process, however, has had just as rough a road as the development up to the point of the pre-release did.

First off, we’ve had to go to to an alternate plan with respect to the Euro RHW textures.  MandelSoft retired from SC4 to focus on his modding work for Euro Truck Simulator (where, as you might expect, he’s doing some pretty amazing things), and while he made every effort to find someone to carry on his work, no one picked up the mantle.  With a myriad of changes to the RHW ramp interfaces for NAM 33, including a re-design of the texture specs for overhanging models, some geometry refinements to some existing draggable/FLEXRamps, and the addition of over two dozen new ramp interfaces, the process of updating all of his alternate RHW texture sets to cover NAM 33’s feature set would require a quite substantial effort–certainly more than the remainder of our already-overloaded developers could handle.  This is especially so given that those alternate sets use different width specs than the default North American/US texture set, so a lot of geometry would have to be created from scratch.

What this means is that MandelSoft’s RHW sets will be discontinued, at least for the time being.  This includes not only the base Euro RHW set, but also the Ontario RHW set (popularized by Haljackey), the Irish/South African set, and the more subtle regional variations on the Euro set.  MandelSoft’s non-RHW EU textures will remain.  In order to ensure that there are at least some Euro textures, I have actually gone through and, with the help of some Photoshop Actions, was able to produce Euro textures from the default North American set in a partially -automated process.  The process I have developed does have the significant plus of making it so that Euro textures can be readily produced as soon as an RHW feature is added.  That said, it’s still not been the easiest task finalizing the new set, especially with juggling rather heavy “real life syndrome”, and there still is work to do here.  A fair amount of installer modifications will also need to be done, in order to reflect these changes.

There is also more bad news on the Mac front, unfortunately.  There have been some rather contentious exchanges internally within the team, that have been brewing for the last few months that we’ve been working on NAM 33.  Normally, I wouldn’t discuss internal politics here, but some of those issues did recently spill out into the public forums at SC4D, to the point of requiring staff intervention, and they’ve had a pretty significant negative impact on the development process of late.  The results have been that one developer has been placed on a two-year leave, another has resigned, and a few innocent parties on the team who became tired of the tension quietly decided to take some time away.  Unfortunately, one of those innocent parties is our one and only Mac user on the team, so there is presently no one with the capability of actually producing a Mac installer at present.

Even more substantial, a user astrobill at SC4D recently reported that the existing Mac installer for NAM 32.1 will not run on the latest version of OS X, El Capitan (10.11), presumably due to the new “System Integrity Checking” (SIC) feature, and without a Mac-fluent developer on the team, we have no way of really investigating the issue any further at present.  This all likely means that NAM 33 may have to go without a Mac release, and Mac support in general may again be shelved for a time (the NAM Team won’t support any NAM 32.x release after NAM 33 is finalized, and NAM 32.0 has already been dropped from support).

-Tarkus

Steaming at Steam: Paradox (and Cities: Skylines) Sale Ends Prematurely

To start off the month, Paradox Interactive, publisher of the popular new city-simulator Cities: Skylines, launched a Steam sale, per <a href=”http://steamcommunity.com/games/255710/announcements/detail/66783563363719219″>this announcement</a>.  Cities: Skylines was one of the titles that was included in this sale, which, per the official announcement on Steam from Paradox’s totalymoo (yes, there’s only one “l” in the name), was set to run “Oct 1-5”.  Hearing about it from a user over at Simtropolis, and figuring that this as an excellent opportunity to finally pick up the title, I picked up a $20 Steam card at Target on my way home from work this afternoon, so I could take advantage of this “perfect opportunity”.  However, once I finally got onto Steam, at about 4pm on October 5th here in Oregon (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-7:00), what did I find?  The game had already gone back to its full price of $29.99.

steam-oct5-cropped

I took that screenshot this evening after dinner . . . it’s still October 5th here, as you’d see from the timestamps on the file.  And even on the US East Coast, which is three hours ahead (UTC-4:00), it’s still October 5th as I type.  For the entire US userbase, it’s still October 5th.  For those in Hawaii (UTC-10:00), it’s not even 5pm on the 5th yet. And apparently, judging by the comments, the price went back up to full well before October 5th was over for those in Central European Time (UTC+1:00):

steam-oct5b-cropped

Again, a screenshot taken on October 5th–the whole first page of comments is almost entirely people who, like myself, are wondering what happened.  It would indeed be a perfect opportunity, but it appears it had, for whatever reason, ended prematurely.  Now, if the sale announcement had included specific information about what timezone was supposed to mark the end, this would be perfectly understandable.  But, it does not.  It just says the 5th.  I suppose the birds on Howland and Baker Islands in the Pacific (UTC-11:00, the farthest west timezone) probably wouldn’t object to being excluded (though they are still US territories), but in light of no fine print, this appears to be a premature end to the sale for about half of the world (and probably at least half of Paradox’s and Steam’s userbase).

To quote Fred Willard’s character from A Mighty Wind, “Hey, wha’ happened?”

-Tarkus