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Messages - Grrt

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Spent the last year as an intern at WDI, and I'm now being converted on as a full time employee starting January. Has panned out well so far!

Planet Coaster Parks / Re: Renee Feu Adventure Park - Port of Call
« on: January 02, 2019, 12:28 PM »
Grrt would hate how bright that pagoda is.  Hell, I do, too, as it make the ugly more prominent.  But the real pagodas of Kathmandu are heavily illuminated like that (tourist attractions, after all) so I did the same.

BTW, what are you using the building for?  You can put a shop or 2 inside.

I would need to see a wider context to understand if the brightness is warranted. :P

Though my main gripe is that it feels a bit flattened out in color. I'd give the roofing a much more saturate red to help the edges and shape of it jump out better.

I mean, rule of thumb, the more you force the game to access files outside of the game folder and installation, the more it will lag. You see the same thing with toolkit items. You just add more stuff that the game has to index and store in memory and keep track of.

I guess it's like if you were running an airport, the less routes you have going into the airport, the easier of a job air traffic control would have routing planes to the ground. You have to either:

1. Add more runways, which in this case would mean upgrading your hardware.
2. Optimize your routes and move around personnel to maximize them quickly getting to the ground. Though could be at the expense of safety, quicker could mean more accidents. In this case would mean Frontier has to change programming to favor billboards over something else. This could make billboards run more quickly, but also create instability and loss of efficiency with other types of pieces.
3. Cut out troublesome plane routes. In this case meaning cut out the billboards and toolkit items.

I'm a very visual person, give me pictures. :P

I got past the cobra screen in about a minute, and was in AH in about 3 or 4. No FPS issues. About a 10MB park with roughly 60,000 pieces. You guys may have some unfortunate bottlenecks somewhere in your hardware.

I'm running a Ryzen 5 2600 with a GTX1080 card, 8GB VRAM, 16GB RAM, and 16gb/s rated SSD.

My advanced move tool is now working properly also. I dunno, all these other playability bugs seem like they're self imposed. It's nice to have working relative axes when doing tricky things, but a feature like that is still a luxury compared to tons of software I've used. The same goes with multi select etc. The game may be more tedious without them, but to say it's 'unplayable' is kind of taking the whole thing for granted. I've seen your guys parks, you can't be struggling THAT bad if you're still putting out the awesome work you guys all are. :P

But yes, complaining about FPS is definitely valid. Though there's a point where it's out of the developers hands. More content, more detail, more STUFF, means more lag and longer load times. Each new DLC adds GB's to the size of the game installation.

I've seen that others are having some success by doing a clean install of the whole game.

I'm currently creatively starved thanks to my own park, but I do really hope I can get some type of submission together! Will be a great distraction from my own park.

You can view bigger parks at night still, you just have to drop all your graphics settings prior to making the change and zoom in on a grass tile well away from objects and then save prior to zooming out, then reloading the park in night mode if it crashes when you zoom out.

I had very heavy parks and found ways to get night lighting.

I've not actually seen anything about new Fantasyland additions (at least not anything public beyond rumors). Are there any public links? If they follow the format they did in World, they'd have a lot to work off of, making kind of mini vignette lands of different films.

Though it likely won't ever happen, since it would require some serious changes, I'd love to see them just connect up Fantasyland with Toontown through where the theater is and make it feel like a proper area more like World rather than what it is now. It feels like a pass through area to me, with the actual experience being hidden behind the paths in show buildings etc. And how it all kinda just awkwardly integrates into itself on all sides. I think Walt sensed this as well when he put the Matterhorn in and redrew his Fantasyland/Tomorrowland split in '59. And then Small World went in and the area kinda turned into a land an a half. Toontown makes it feel like 3/2's are sitting there waiting to fit in together.

The switch to Bavarian stylings in the 80's was a good move overall over the circus tents, but you do sever the thematic connection to Small World, the Tea Cups, canal boats, and Casey Jr. (Literally a circus train) Though you do create a connection with Matterhorn. I dunno, I think there's some third way to connect these disparate themes that could possibly connect in with Toontown and create something cohesive.

But apart from all this, love the photos! Even if there's strollers everywhere.

I thought maybe Frontier had given the update to someone like Silvaratt to put into an existing park to show it off.

That's a possibility, but I think the Frontier 'test park' they generally use for screenshots is just from the developers end and not a guy like Silv. The stuff that people like Silv make don't get showcased till after packs release.

If it was fake and just scenery, they wouldn't have taken down the photo. And it's very un-Frontier to give us a fake ride made out of scenery, especially considering how much work they pour into these rides when they make them.

The ones they had pictured looked like ski-lift style.

It never hurts. But if you're driving ultra graphics into your parks, as well as tons of guests, scenery, etc. the issue will persist. It's an old engine that cannot effectively use modern processors, RAM, graphics, indexing, and on and on. It's just naturally going to become unstable if you play it like a modern game. When I would play, I would fix my time of day almost always. If you want to change it to nighttime, you often have to drop your graphics settings to the bare minimum to prevent a crash.

The injection point problems have been known for a while. If you use custom injection points, such as from custom scenery, it will just botch the whole system up. Even setting them within game limits while making a custom scenario, you have to be very careful about where they are.

Also, you don't specify if you are using any custom scenery, tracks, rides, or anything of that nature. That would again, compound issues.

But what it sounds like, is just erratic and unfixable interaction between the game and your computer build. More RAM allocation means less stability, and much more random weird occurrences that don't make sense.

For years the community had to figure out ways to deal with random crashes. It unfortunately becomes a matter of learning which behaviors create problems, and avoiding them.

The day/night transition was always very intensive in RCT3 if I remember. Doesn't necessarily have to do with RAM. Has more to do with overloading the game's engine and how it 'sees' the processor. If you open up the RAM allocation it compounds that problem, however.

It is likely a processor driven error. RCT3 can only use a single core. So even though you have a very good processor, it has 4 cores. Meaning that the actual performance RCT3 uses of it is cut to 1/4th. So that overload and subsequent crash is inevitable. And you aren't noticing any performance red flags because you are opening up the RAM, and using an excellent graphics card.

Planet Coaster Parks / Re: American Heritage - Planet Coaster Park
« on: December 08, 2018, 06:55 PM »
This is such a wonderfully realistic Victorian industrial wasteland!!!  One of my favorite things in the world ;)

It makes me want to start singing this song:

WOW. Thanks for this album! It's perfect for this theme and I will surely try and integrate it..

Well, if you're going for creepy, it's OK :)

I was thinking a dim light from below was trying to fake brighter light reflecting from above.  There's more light above than below.

Yeah, that's basically what's happening. But people tend to place more light below, or use that method to eliminate placing poles and it doesn't always look right and you can tell instantly that they've just hidden a bunch of lights under the path. Especially cause you can see the outline of the light distribution on the topside of the pathways.


I've now went in and added quite a bit more info and photos to the previous post.

Yay, more great info from Grrt!

I tend to bury the area lights just below the ground along paths rather than spamming lightpoles.  You obviously don't think that's the best plan so I was wondering what it's problems are :)

That's a good point. I definitely don't recommend doing it that way primarily, haha. I'll add a section about this technique and why to avoid it. The basis is that you don't create a physically accurate environment. Cause light doesn't come up from the ground as much as it comes off of the walls. A standard scene has about 80% reflective ceilings, 50%-60% reflective walls, and only 10%-30% reflective floors, with the lower end of that being more typical in exteriors, especially when you use darker pavements.

 If you use a lighter path color, I suppose you could mimic this a bit, but use it exclusively and you get unnatural shadows on your people.

You ideally want something more like rows 1 and 2 in a main street, cause rows 3,4, and 5 feels really unnatural in a park setting, especially on a main street. Place lights in the ground and you tend to get that.

Well, I didn't want to do this whole thing over again, but I suppose I ought to.


I'll now lay out how the lighting engine in Planet Coaster functions, which will become important in exploiting it.

So there's a lot of fuss about the new NVIDIA 'real time ray tracing' graphics cards. Why are these so cool? Well, typically a game will 'rasterize' your scene, meaning that all your lighting is fixed. Real time ray tracing allows you to bounce light rays all around the scene in realtime, creating a much more realistic scene.

In the case of Planet Coaster, light rays don't bounce. The light created by the light fixtures instead goes through this sequence:

1. Light flux leaves the object in the distribution set by said object.

Here's a simple diagram of what distribution is. A spotlight obviously looks much different than a sphere of light.

2. Flux travels through the scene until it strikes an object.
3. Light strikes the object. This leaves a faux light pattern on the object. The game says 'draw light here, and decay off'. This light is baked on to the object. It is simply the multiplying of a light map onto the color map of the object. If you've messed with the TMT this should make sense.
4. Object casts a shadow based on its angle compared to the light. This gets stored in the shadow map.
5. Light continues through the object, unencumbered by any previous objects it strikes. This becomes pretty important later. The game cannot occlude and stop light.

This sequence is pretty easy to observe in the game.

You see the light miraculously travel through walls to other walls behind it, while no light bounces onto the rear wall where it should go. In reality, light would continue to bounce back and forth between these two walls for as long as it could until the light fully decays to zero. Generally about 99% of the light is gone by the third bounce. In the game, there is no bounce light, and the light simply travels onward till it decays to zero. This is also set by the light distribution.

That creates some tricky things that you have to maneuver around in the game.


So in today's lesson, I'm gonna look exclusively at what could be lumped as 'main street' lighting. For now, this encompasses the exterior elements of the facades and pathways. (I haven't done any interiors on my main street. If you have any files with interiors that you would like dissected and analyzed and modified, I'd be more than happy to take them!)

So I'll start by laying some ground rules for how main street lighting is supposed to 'feel' and what elements are important. Most of my references are from Disney because they happen to be the best examples by a longshot.

Keys to main street lighting:
1. Lots and lots of light. Main streets are well.. the main street of your park. This means they are supposed to be lively, active, and inviting. Your lighting has to reflect this. That means pumping as much light as you can to highlight as much as you can. There's very little on the main streets that fade into the background. Your choices here are 'bright' and 'very bright' for the most part. There's not much subtlety to be had on a main street. It's a cacophony.

2. High visibility of people! This pairs with step 1 pretty well. The main street is also the most crowded area of your park, simply by nature, and so visibility is super super important. Guests need to be able to see the faces of others so they can avoid bumping into each other, but also so they can read facial expressions to some extent.

Think of all the times you've crossed paths with a stranger and you both weave to avoid each other.. but weave to the same side. Awkward. Seeing faces can help prevent that.

It's fairly easy to light up your facades sufficiently, but if your pathways don't get enough light, it's all out of whack and doesn't quite feel right. The main obstacle here is that in Planet Coaster, light doesn't bounce. So if you aim a light at a wall, it doesn't bounce back the other direction.

Here are two examples in Planet Coaster of good and bad visibility of people.

Here is a good example. You can see all the facial features of these people. There are no gross shadows across them. They feel 'normal'.

Now here is your 'Squidward' of park lighting.. In the dark. Undetectable. Doesn't match the light levels of the surrounding area. Just feels like someone put a black hole over the area and sucked out all the life. Even the daughter is unhappy about it. Don't be a Squidward.

I'll refer back to this later when looking at techniques.

3. Make people want the weenie. 'Weenie' of course being a term Walt used to describe a key point, such as a castle, that you want to draw guests to. In the daytime, you have to draw guests to your weenie with architecture and massing. At night you get many other tools. These may include:

    1. Color. This is the easiest way to draw guests in. A blue color stands out against a red one.
    2. Intensity. Stuff that's brighter attracts guests more readily than a dark corner.
    3. Size. As with daytime, at night, the surface area of your weenie is still important. Lighting up a bigger weenie makes it far more appealing than a dinky little one (sorry fellas). Take note of this in your story. You may want a subtle weenie. You may want a garish gigantic castle. But the lighting will need to fall into place with that. Disneyland's castle and Walt Disney World's castle are very different. But the lighting doesn't try to turn one into the other. Cinderella's castle makes no attempts to be subtle and Sleeping Beauty's makes no attempt to be a spectacle, and that's ok. Think the story you want to tell.

4. Very congruent color temperature. Typically, your main street is nothing more than one giant show building on either side with a bunch of fake facades breaking that up with no space between the buildings. You have one vanishing point and it's one big cluttered scene. You don't have a lot of freedom to break up that vanishing point with color changes.

See Disney World here. Every building on the main street serves merely as a means to move the eye towards the castle. Any break up of this pattern would kill this movement and destroy the scene.

Now I'll make one small change, simply changing the color of the light affecting one small facade on the right, without making any alterations to the actual lighting design:

By just making this one building a little more blue, it suddenly competes with the castle. Due to the perspective of the street, it takes up almost the exact same field of view as the castle. This totally alters your story, as you've made this shop, in this case a crystal store, equally as important as the castle. Does this make sense? Certainly not in the case of Disney World, and probably not in your park either. Be mindful of this when you start to light your street.

These points of color are equally valid even when you aren't in a traditional environment. Say, you're in Tomorrowland. Lets take a look there instead:

While they've used tons of color, on any individual level, the color is fairly congruent.

 With some splashes of yellow here and there. But you can clearly still detect the vanishing point and nothing competes in the scene. This is ideal.

4. Create points of focus beyond your weenie. So I had said earlier that tons of light is very important, and it is, another important thing to remember on main streets is that you still want to draw attention to all those shops with all the expensive merchandise you no doubt have stocking those shelves. Or the $20 margaritas and $10 appetizers.

So where do you highlight? The big ones are probably these three:

        1. Entrances. Mainly doorways. These need to be brighter than the rest of the area. Guests will naturally flock to brighter areas. They are like a swarm of moths.
        2. Window displays. This is where you show off the fancy merch. Again, people are like moths. See the Christmas Story for proof:

And all they had in there were some measly Raggedy Ann dolls and a model train!

        3. Signage. This one is underrated but very critical. Nobody will go near your shop if they don't know what it even is. You do have to be a bit careful on signage, depending on your story. Too much and you clutter your scene into chaos. This may be your story, it may not be. But signage is the determining factor. See Nashville:

Now see Wisconsin. Pretty big difference. One is actually a place you want to spend time being in. The other is a depressing and cold wasteland. Unless you're building a Six Flags park, I can't imagine the second is your goal.

        4. Stuff you will run into. This is a duh obvious one that can be forgotten, but if you have jutting out corners and steps that are in pitch black, you're gonna have a bad time. Kids with black eyes.. wheelchairs littering the pavement. Not great.

**photo redacted**

(When I add an interior section, there becomes many other critical areas, mainly your POS {point of sale, the registers usually} and the shelves. In restaurants it becomes a WHOLE other arena that requires a whole new set of criteria)

5. Uniformity of light. This is something I've touched on plenty in the earlier tutorials, but to reiterate it here I'll be concise.

Uniformity is good.. until it isn't. You want light that is congruent across your scene, but to completely eliminate contrast makes your scene a bore. I will touch more on this later in the tutorial.


Ok, so now that I've laid out how lighting works in the game, I'll start digging into how I implement these qualitative criteria into (pseudo) reality.

First, I'll start with the general area lighting. This means the pathways that guests traverse, and does not include any vertical surfaces like the facades. Only the horizontal ones like pathways, and guests, which aren't really in either category.

I'll start with a true overview. How much light should you have? Well, I have about this much:

How does that compare to more standard areas of my park? Well, it differs by a ton. Here is another land in this same park from overhead.

As you can tell, the difference here is substantial. Why is that? Well, the main reason goes right back to point #1. Lots and lots of light.

It's simply an inevitability that to meet all the criteria I have set forth, you need to make your main street really really bright. No other lands besides your entrance street have such intense criteria.

Now, this is very hard to prove from aerials, but this photo shows something similar at Disneyland.

The main street is very clearly traceable from just the lighting. And is far higher in light levels than any of the surrounding areas. None of which can be as clearly seen from the air.

Contrast on the ground plane starts to become a serious issue even at this very simple level. I said that you want uniformity, but if you have tons of uniformity, you kill all your contrast. So how can you possible have both??

Well the answer starts and ends with one thing. Spacing.

Spacing is basically just how far apart you place lights. Closer spacing means more light and also more uniformity. Ideally you want to use as few lights as possible to achieve a uniformity that works. This would in the real world mean less money to spend on lights, as well as less clutter from poles all over the place, something that can really kill a screenshot.


This intersection with about a million too many light poles. Don't do this.

Since you cannot increase the output of a fixture in the game, only decrease it, you have to get a little clever. Luckily it's pretty easy. I'll first detail how I've done it in this application, and then another application that is valid in less cramped areas.

If you look onto my main street, you'll see I have many many street poles all over. They are spaced fairly realistically in a way that doesn't clutter everything up.

This is how most lighting is accomplished in reality at theme parks. This is because lighting actually bounces around in real life. In Planet Coaster, light does not bounce. So you have to fake the impression of light bouncing through other methods.

Method 1: Hidden event lights

So what I discovered on a main street is that the street is almost always too wide to guarantee good shadowing for the peeps walking down the middle of the street, no matter how optimally you placed poles. How to stop this? Pretty easy. Just hide a bunch of event lights in your buildings.

Yep. That's it. Aim as many as you need towards the paths to make your peeps visible. One caveat is that this really can kill your game performance if you do it too much. So aim for thinner main streets and you'll have to use this less often.

Why does this work? Well, in reality, a main street is a very diffuse, very 'bouncy' environment where light is bouncing everywhere. This means less shadows. So these event lights do nothing more than emulate that bouncing of light around the scene that is otherwise vanishing. I use this type of exploit very very frequently in my lighting. It can replicate glow from windows, string lights, and on and on..

This is my preferred method. But you don't always have a place to hide a light that makes sense. If you are in an open pathway where there is no realistic way that light bouncing would happen, you have to somehow increase the intensity of your existing poles without killing your color.

That's also pretty easy, luckily.

Method 2: Poles only.

This is pretty easy. Just take your light and duplicate it and place it down in the same spot. This is one light.

Here's about 10 poles all in the same place. The more you place, the more filled out the sphere around the light becomes. Eventually you'd probably see a near perfect circle, but you end up with diminishing returns at a point, but it's great to help get that little extra brightness you need without changing the color of your light or finding some weird place to add another light. Just add one back in the same place.

This can become a performance drag that many probably want to avoid, but in most areas of the parks, you don't need to spam lights all that much. Usually one or two in one place will get the trick done. Main streets are again, just very rigorous to light and you need quite a bit of light.

Method 3: Lights under the paths

Another common technique I hear people using a lot is burying lights in the pathways to light the guests. I'll describe here why that isn't always such a great technique.

Here I've placed a number of boxlights under the pathway. What you end up seeing is all the shadows are on the tops of the people, and not under their faces. They look creepy. This isn't the type of lighting you want. What you ideally want are shadows to come from overhead. This is what feels most natural.

Also, if you use the area light, you get this clearly visible pattern of light on the top of your path, totally blowing the illusion and giving away that you've just hid a bunch of lights under the path.

Aim for rows 1 and 2 of this diagram, avoid the bottom rows if you can.

Now of course, if you look back to how the lighting functions, there is no light bouncing off the ground, even though this would be happening in reality. So you COULD put a few lights under there to add in some more diffusion, but you have to be careful that your shadows on the people don't look really gross.

Method 4: Tall poles

Another fairly simple method is to hide big tall poles with the event light on them in planters and other nooks around your park. I don't generally love this method cause the poles usually are ugly and intrusive. But you can get away with them in certain areas where you aren't able to hide lights properly elsewhere.

Method 5: Lights in trees

This also has limited use, but can be helpful in a pinch. When your spacing isn't quite right for another street pole, and a big telephone pole is too intrusive, you may be able to get away with hiding some lights in the branches. Since the game doesn't block light, you can easily stash them without getting any light block from the tree itself.

Also visible in this picture is my technique for lighting up trees. Just recess lights a few feet from your trunk and point them up.

In this case they are angled back a bit into the main path. This prevents 'spillover' onto the adjacent building, which would have ruined my lighting on that facade.


Facade Lighting:

Now onto the facades. My techniques here are generally pretty simple, but some can of course be performance intensive.

My two workhorses for facades are these:

They are low profile and have the most realistic lighting distributions. Also critically, you can change their color.

So here is my building. At a glance, you don't see any light sources. You see the area light poles, and a few wall sconces, yet all of the lights making the building 'glow' are hidden. In reality, the string lights on the building would be very bright bulbs that would illuminate most of the facades. There is so much light bouncing around on a main street that your buildings generally have lots of glow.

If I choose my lights, you can see I have a crapload of them hidden all over the place. This is madness for most parks and you could get away with far less, but this is my extreme example that gave me the light I needed.

To highlight the walls, boxlights are angled in. What is important here is that you don't put lights on your windows. From a realism standpoint, nobody is going to be shining lights into a room from the outside on purpose. The lights on the outside are meant to illuminate the walls, not the windows.

Above are some arm lights which illuminate the cornice. I managed to get them to blend in pretty well with the windows so that they don't appear to be lights. They just appear to be a part of the window frame.

I did similar spamming of armlights on the corner, where I wanted a bit more light. Back to earlier, remember that I said you have to draw focus to certain areas? Well corner buildings are certainly important, and adding brightness here makes them an anchor point in the scene.

Under the doorways, the classic boxlights are underneath. This is again overkill. Most parks you could get away with one or two. My main street is really bright, so to make much brighter areas than an already bright scene requires spamming tons and tons of lights.

Across the way, I've done similar techniques.

I tried my best to have the lights integrate with the architecture so that they feel fairly invisible. You can also see a stronger representation of what not illuminating the windows looks like.

A separate building here. Since the string lights in the game do not give off actual light, and are just bright texture, to realistically mimic the real lighting affects of them, you can also use armlights. This is an 'expensive' technique and why I generally avoid using too many string lights.

I have a little splash of color on my elephants, but not so much to overwhelm the scene.

Marquees and Overhangs:

Marquees may be another thing you have on your main street. They are simple to light and give you a nice shelf to place facade lighting.

On the underside I have many 'string' lights to represent the typical bulbs.

Recessed in the marquee are a series of area lights. This mimics the light from the bulbs.

You also get a nice shelf for the studio lights to illuminate your facade. They can create a very 'flat' looking facade, but also will save you a few lights.

For a more basic canopy, you don't need to have two full layers and can get away with either the boxlights or area lights, depending on your preference. In this case, I liked the boxlights better.


Sconces are of course a very very common light source. Were I designing a real street, I would use them extremely heavily. However, there are very very few decent sconces in the game. Most have no ability to change their color, thus rendering them almost useless.

Here are the few sconces I will use the most:

These ones have fairly inoffensive and traditional colors. The Munsters ones are a bit more blue, and the spooky ones a bit more yellow. The rest in the game are super super yellow and gross and I avoid them like the plague.

The other downside to these sconces is that they are just big blobs of light that can overwhelm the scene if you overuse them. For that reason, I tend to use the more controlled methods above on my facades.

Illuminated Windows:

These can be quite useful, but only when the theme of the window matches the theme of your building. The only lit windows are from the spooky pack and are thus very rugged. They do retain the color and texture of the window which makes them useful.

You can get around this by recessing the illuminated color panels into your windows when you don't have the option of using an illuminated window. This becomes very tricky and tedious, and also forces you to plaster over the window texture, costing you some depth, especially during the day. The TV screens can work here too, but again, it just becomes really tricky and tedious to map it all correctly. Not really worth it unless you REALLY need a window to look illuminated.


So what I'll do now is start the lighting of a structure from near start to finish.

Here is the building with no lighting. I opted for one illuminated window in the center tower.

Now, I place an armlight to illuminate the tower further and supplement the glow of the window. This makes it feel a little less painted on and illuminates some of the structure that would realistically be illuminated by the window glow.

Next, I added some more armlights onto the roof. They are made to mimic 'snow-guards' which prevent snow from falling several stories off of roofs and crushing people. My park is based in the northeast, so this is within my story.

Next I add in my sconces. They give some glow to the facade elements. I opted for these over the pricier armlight techniques as I managed to get these to work well, and I really didn't have anywhere better to hide more lights without aiming them directly onto windows.

And finally, I add the large area lights under my canopy. This makes the building inviting, and gives enough light on the pathway for guest visibility.

I could have added a few more layers to the upper structure, but for whatever reason, I stop here. I like how the light tapers off as you move up the structure. It gives it a sense of size.


So that's all I have for now. I'm not sure when the next installment will come. If you have more ideas for things to add, please let me know and I'll try to touch on it.

Planet Coaster Parks / Re: American Heritage - Planet Coaster Park
« on: December 07, 2018, 05:16 PM »
This park looks absolutely spectacular so far, I can't even begin to describe how much I love those custom supports on the B&M Invert. And well done on the fences, I assume those have been tedious to place around the park. You've got a talent for theming and detailing, this park amazes me.

The fences were a big pain yes, haha. And the B&M supports were kinda just a fluke and I'm amazed they turned out. When I was building them I got a lot of pushback for ruining the elegance of a B&M, which was exactly what I wanted to do haha.

Half those screenshots look like real photos...the attention to detail and realism is top notch.
That train yard! :o

I had a good bit of help in the train yard. Wings & Strings created a lot of the little tidbits and structures. And Kudo made me the engine and the coal hopper, as well as gave me quite a bit of direction on how a train yard actually looks and functions haha.

I'll add one bonus post cause I found another shot I liked.


Check the parks board for a new update! This one focuses on the Coal Town which I've been on a roll with.

Planet Coaster Parks / Re: American Heritage - Planet Coaster Park
« on: December 07, 2018, 04:44 PM »
That lift hill is trippy!   :o

Some seriously beautiful architecture in this park, nice job! 

Thanks a bunch! Hope you stick around to see more.


American Heritage - Coal Town

I'll start at the rear entrance as the front one is much more incomplete. Here the invert flies over a sign directing you into town. (I'm still sorting out the best way to do the lettering here..)

This area has been heavily opened up. In the center is a 'runoff' pond so to speak where all the gross coal pollution would have been dumped into. My park of course has a state of the art filtration system and engages in no water source pollution.

At the head of the pond is a sawmill. This is where the coal miners would go to get the wood necessary to build up all the giant structures they would need for their mining infrastructure as it rapidly expanded. It has the added benefit of making sure the park water basin doesn't stagnate.

Water would be pumped from the sawmill and make its way to this culvert on the other edge of the pond where it would be pumped for re-circulation back to the sawmill.

One of the three main attractions is of course, this B&M invert that flies through the breaker structure. This attraction has mostly been patched up and completed on this side.

The land also has a family mine train coaster. You enter through a mine shaft which takes you into the depths of the mine.

You eventually emerge from the depths of the mine and are spit out the top of the breaker to meander through the pathways and back into the station.

There are some very tight clearances and interactions with the pathway as well as the invert.

Thirsty for a drink? Stop by Kudo's beer and wine cart to get all the booze you can drink! (Two drinks per customer.)

But watch out, there's some competition from the local shiner, undercutting the price to drive him out of business!

If you round a corner you can find your way to the elusive entrance area to the invert. It takes you through the train yard where the coal hoppers are loaded to be taken wherever they might be needed.

The yard sits in a valley overlooked by a firetower. It is also a favorite place for grifters to come by trying to lure in those coal mine workers. This one seems to have been driven out of town, and awful quick if he left behind his wagon.

At night the area takes on a warm glow. The coaster threads over the administration and depot office.

The light here is known to flicker as the train rushes by. (I don't have a video, but I did manage to program a little flicker effect which is triggered by the train coming past. It's subtle but gives the area a little more life and movement.)

An overview of the area for those who like that sort of thing. You can see where the park train actually comes through and goes across the pathway. (This is an earlier shot, so the restaurant you see in the background has been deleted.)

The watch tower and some hand carts sitting off the track for when they are needed.

Area lighting has begun to fill in around the area as well.


Some easy but subtle lighting tricks are employed around the area to give some moonlight glow on dark objects. As well as some brute force lighting tricks such as on the wood support structure.

As the coal demand keeps growing, the nights keep getting later and later! The mining company has been forced to install electric lighting to keep the plant running into the night.

And of course, these gentleman don't mind staying a bit later to get those end of day crowds.

And I'll leave you with one more shot, this being from the harbor area which is coming soon.[/img]

Well, the thing is, you can't maintain the full development crew after release.  In fact, you tend to start paring it down even before release as you meet project milestones.  The released crew then moves on to the next project.  So, when a game is released, it's only got a fraction of the staff it had at the height of development.  This is especially true of testers.  The job of testers, and any of the public involved in early access, is to get the game to whatever state upper management decides is fit for release.  Once that happens, testing is by definition over.

From then on, the only testing that goes on has the same goal as the original:  get the patches and DLC in fit state to release.  There's no point in paying a team just to play the game long-term to see what happens over time,  because they'd only give you the exact same type of data, but way less of it, than you get for free from customers reporting problems.  It makes even less sense if you have these guys looking at extreme cases that the bulk of customers will never experience.  You can never make everybody happy so you have to focus on making most of them happy.

No, I don't suggest they do that. But if new DLC breaks playability with earlier additions and DLC, that's something worth knowing. If you don't care about maintaining compatibility with giant park files across the life of the game, that's fine, but don't push your recommended specs under that impression. And maybe publish some recommended park limits so that people know how big they can expect to build their parks.

And it doesn't seem like Frontier has made the majority of people happy. It seems most people are decidedly UNHAPPY about the playability of their files, no matter the case, size, level of detail, etc. So as a developer, if you start seeing tons of bugs rolling in and tons of parks breaking and you're getting a ton of reported problems, it's maybe a good move to add a couple staff back into testing and quality control so that you don't hemorrhage all your users and cashflow in the future.

It's a hard world to manage expectations in. But I think Shy more means that even though they couldn't possibly test day one stuff perfectly, that after release, they should have been trying to scour 'worst case scenario' parks and see how their systems react to them.

And certain systems should take common sense as a game developer to understand. Like, having your effects triggered to FPS in a genre that is notorious for FPS killing files. Shouldn't have gotten past alpha. Same with the way they are implementing many other features. It just seems there's a lack of quality control passes. I can give the benefit of the doubt in the short term, but after two years I would expect many of the bugs to be fixed, rather than the game going the other direction and actually breaking itself worse.

Like, I remember when Bioshock: Infinite had tons of delays on release and Ken Levine made it clear they would rather postpone a bit and get the game right rather than face the wrath of the masses from rushing an incomplete game out. It's a tough line. But if you know your game is going to have tons of DLC and will need to last quite a while to keep your studio afloat, it seems prudent to make sure it's a finished product on release so you aren't spending the first two years after it's come out fixing basic bugs that should've been patched in alpha.

Ah.  I've never really messed with either, ever since I learned that trigger delay times are modified by FPS, so if you build a dark ride early in the park, by the time you finish the park the triggers will be all screwed up.

Wait, what??? Who the hell approved this choice at Frontier? This is beyond stupid. Why not just use the 'seconds' part of FPS and not use the part that changes?

Thememaker's Toolkit / Re: Creators to watch
« on: December 04, 2018, 09:09 PM »

Oli has made some very nice pieces. Is doing a great job coaching people the best ways to make objects and troubleshooting. And is very mindful of LOD's, textures, etc. This is his latest waterpark set.

I would gut your toolkit folder. Seemingly the game treats files in that folder differently, as it has to locate a new tree for the files that's outside of your C: drive. And if your game installation isn't on the same drive as your documents folder, say one is on solid state, the other not, that could be seriously taxing. The new update likely added some framework to allow toolkit items to not have to be placed within the Steam folder. That likely causes some slowdowns.

What's your hard drive arrangement?

I would also take pains to make sure your registry is squeaky clean and your PlanCo installation is clean and all your files validate. What Windows version are you running? If it's not Windows 10, I would try running in compatibility mode for it. What is your graphics card? If it's Nvidia, they have a control panel where you can adjust the application settings, make sure there is nothing in there that sticks out as odd, such as forcing or disabling multi-threading, etc.

They really need to add some track-lights or something for those displays. They look so sad up there in the dark.

Yeah.. lots of people have been having that issue. For whatever reason the ASCII encoding of the .fbx file doesn't care about the units and does something weird. Upscale your model by 100, then adjust your Blender world units by the same amount and it should work. Changing world units evidently doesn't hard code that data into your objects.

I've had issues with material not showing up including flexi color. I'm not sure I understand the zip hierarchy. Anybody got an example?

Your flexi color map is just a mask that shows where on your object's base color map you want something to be recolorable, and the strength that you want that recolor to show. So if you want your whole object to be flexi-color, just create a 64x64 image that is in the range between 0% brightness and 90% brightness. A black image will have no recolorability, a 90% white image will have optimal recolorability.

Then you just make your base color map grayscale so that it can apply the color you pick in the game over that map. If it is not gray, it will not properly apply the flexicolor.

So think of it as three maps. Your base color map (which should be grayscale) looks to your flexi-color map for information about where it should be recolored, and by how much. Using that data, the game then applies a third map to this, which is a map from the color you pick in the game.

So for an object in the game to display exactly as the color you choose in the color picker, you would include two maps in your zip file. A base color map that is 100% white, and a flexicolor map that is 100% white.

For an area to be non-recolorable, you would mask that area off in your flexi color map with black. This means that those areas will have zero influence from the third mask, the color chosen in game, and essentially look exactly as the base color map.

I figured it out. I had to change it into a mesh.. or something like that. I'm still learning Blender.  I did try to upload my first object to test.. but.. I got all sorts of errors.. so.. back to the drawing board

Yes, make sure all the objects you create are meshes and not NURBS surfaces. Nurbs uses splines and control points and equations, PC needs vertices, edges, and faces where it just draws straight lines.

Thememaker's Toolkit / Re: Thememakers Toolkit Discussion
« on: November 21, 2018, 09:47 AM »
I think nearly all of the large models are currently due to large texture size. There's a budget of 2048x2048 and people want to use all of that, even for tiny pieces with just the basic PC texture. Texel rate is optimized at 256x256 per meter. For anything less than a meter you shouldn't come close to that budget.

But a few 64x64 maps work just fine for most purposes unless there's actual texture detail needed like for signage. Like, if you're doing flexi-color on your whole object, all your really need is a 32x32 black image. Same with specularity and other similar maps.

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