The United Cities of Talaran

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Welcome to my new DD: "The United Cities of Talaran".

As I explained briefly in a last post in my previous DD "The Region of Sambey", in late October 2014 I halted the development of the 6-cities cluster that had occupied me for many months, because the traffic issues raised by my choice of development (specialized cities) were becoming unmanageable.

At the same time I started on a new development. It is again a cluster, this time of 9 cities. Each city will be developed in the normal way, with the classic residential, commercial and industrial zones. The cities will be linked, primarily by highways and rail lines, in a way that will prevent the dreaded Eternal Commuter syndrome. Physically, the 9 cities are placed in another area of the large region of Sambey, but to distinguish them from the previous development I have settled on the global name of 'Talaran'.

After the initial preparation of the terrain, the area of the 9 cities, still totally empty, looked like this:


The links between the cities are planned in the following way:


I spent a long time laying down the basic highway and railway networks, as well as some structuring avenues in each city. All neighbor links have been prepared, but left inactive (connectors deleted) during the initial development of the cities. I want the Sims to look for employment locally in their respective cities for a while. Inter-city links will be 'opened' gradually.

Currently all 9 cities have been started and have populations of around 1000 Sims each. Progress is slow, partly because my time for the game is limited, partly too because I want to grow the cities as concurrently as possible, and, well, playing 9 cities at the same time is 9 times slower than playing a single one. Here is the current view of the cluster, city and mayor names removed for better clarity.


I can't guarantee frequent updates of this DD, but I'll try to keep at it with regularity.

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Hey Pierre,

this was a fabulous update man !

But sure, just take your time with this. I realize the time involved in playing a 9 - city region.

But I am quite hopeful this will be your best quality region yes my friend !

Your plans look quite thorough this time around , and I hope you find time to work on this a lot more once you get back from your Ski vacation !

I really think your off to a great start here.  :cool:

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Wow! You have some amazing planning with this region and I can't wait to see more from you on this region! What I would suggest is that maybe building some north south highways up the sides rather than just one through the center three cities would ease traffic and commuting as well when the cities are bigger.

Also this will definitely be a large undertaking so understandably take your time with updates :) My DD hasn't had an official update in almost a full year haha

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This DD has been dormant for such a long time that I wonder how many people still remember about it. Let's say that I got distracted in many ways. However I kept working on that cluster of cities, albeit at a rather slow pace. I intend to reactivate this DD, in particular by presenting some of the guidelines I am using in the development of the cities. I am still working, off-line, on a first such presentation. Today, as a kind of teaser, I show a current region view with the cities and mayor names removed for better clarity:


The total population of the 9 cities is currently 3,682,765 Sims.

More to come - hopefully - soon...

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it is great to see you have re; activated your CJ here again at Simmania..

I think something i look forward to seeing , is what aspects work well and which don't in terms of the regional play aspects of sim city 4.. As you know some aspects were never fully completed for the "region play" aspects , by Maxis

So it might be interesting to see if we can identify those aspects and , it should provide an additional area of meaningful discussion as you work on this city cluster and do some future updates, my friend

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Thanks to all for your comments! It certainly encourages me to work further on my cities and also on this DD.

Then, here are some of the 'guidelines' that I am using in the development of the 9-cities Talaran cluster.

My main interest when playing the game is in transportation networks, with an emphasis on public transportation. For those I use the following guidelines:

- Public transportation local to each city features primarily a GLR/subway combination according to a model used in some German cities (for example Frankfurt am Main, Köln, Stuttgart, Hannover and the Rhur cities): GLR tracks are laid in the residential and industrial areas, mostly on avenues and roads. Using transitions they become subway lines in the commercial district. Nearly all GLR and subway stations are 'combos' that also act as bus stops, and buses complete the public transportation offer, used mostly as 'feeders' to the GLR and subway lines. Here are some illustrations:

. Transition of tram-in-avenue to subway in Trelayne



. Tram-in-avenue and bus 'combo' station in Desognes, next to a traffic circle with a 'grand union' in the center



. Tram-in-road and bus 'combo' in a residential area under development in Marlande



. 'Central Library' bus+subway combo station in Cherenne



- Public transportation between cities uses railway lines and buses on highways. Each city has a main railway station located in the CBD. Some cities also have 'suburban' railway stations, sometimes on railway branches that are local only.

. Main railway station in Arcens. The area is in an unifinished state. The station and the tracks are sufficient for the current traffic, but may need expansion later, at the cost of some redevelopment of the area.



. Suburban railway station in Cherenne. Tram on right-of-way can also be seen; on the bottom right a transition to subway.



- The only networks that link the cities are highways and rail lines. Roads, avenues and streets are always local to a city only, they do not cross city boundaries.

. In Polsay, railway link and 6-lane highway link to Salveille.



(To be continued)

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Excellent update here my friend ,

For one thing , besides the diversity and quality of the pics you presented..

This was a very informative postings in terms of how to effectively use a Mass transit system not only for players choosing to play only a single localized city map, but of course those players who chose also to play multiple cities in a "connection / regional play type environment.. In a sense I see this post as a ( smaller tutorial) posting on this topic :D

One thing I would like to mention while it is fresh in my mind, I would always struggle with traffic congestion issues surrounding the areas near the neighbor connection networks .. ( i think you are well aware of this issue I have had ) ..

So I would curious if that has ever become an issue for you in these "regional play"/ multi city environment  ?

 ... and further if this has been an issue you have had to deal with in the past, ( perhaps over time), you would be good enough to give some helpful pointers in keeping traffic congestion under control near these neighbor connection sites ?

Also further along these same lines, I would like to ask for some demographics/ statistics ( of the cities) at some point. Maybe something starting out basic with the current populations of the relevant cities, along with at times some congestion view pics and discussions when the cities become large enough to make all of that meaningful..

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I complete here the guidelines part of this DD, and then I'll reply to some comments.

One challenge is to avoid monotony in the development, in other words, to avoid creating 9 occurences of the same city. The geography of the various cities, in particular the many bodies of water, ensures variety. Some cities have a single central CBD, others have 2 or more commercial areas. Industrial areas are always relegated to the edges of the city tiles. There is no attempt to match the zoning across city boundaries.

Because I am interested in the effects and challenges of large populations, I use nearly exclusively high density zoning. This results in a large number of residential high-rises, making the cities resemble in part to large urban sprawls like those found in far-eastern cities in RL.

I accept nearly all rewards offered by the game, but otherwise I use plopped monuments etc quite sparingly.


Some other design decisions are:

- Only wide curves for highways. This has been a constraint in some cities because of the presence of waterways. The fact that it is not possible to build a wide 90 degrees curve for a RHW-8S highway has forced the used of 2 parallel RHW-4S highways in a few situations.

- No at grade crossing of railway lines. Except in very few specific locations, all such crossings, as well as highway crossings by other roadways, are underground crossings using FLUP components. On the other hand, when a railway line crosses a highway, the railway line is raised to the upper level, while the highway remains on the surface level.

There are some further design principles affecting the tram/subway networks, I'll deal with those separately, and in some detail fashion, later.


Brian asked for some statistics. They are interesting, to the extent that they show some disparities between the cities.

Out of the 9 cities, 7 develop quite normally. Here are the current population numbers for them:

Desognes: 451'820

Marlande: 452'253

Cherenne: 447'746

Trelayne: 444'918

Deramey: 445'681

Prandergal: 452'077

Salveille: 441'073

Here for example is the zone view for Cherenne, showing the quite separated C, R and I areas. The idea is that they should expand, according to the needs, until they meet.


The reason for the rather homogeneous population numbers is that the cities are grown, by small increments, so as to keep them of similar size. The next city to be played is the one with the smallest population, in the current cas this will be Salveille. Those cities have the potential for reaching at least 1 Mio Sims each.


Then there are 2 cities which do not develop as well as the others. One of them is the city at the center of the cluster, Arcens, population 201'433. This is a surprise for me: I was expected that, being at the center, and therefore in communication, directly or indirectly, with all other cities, it would be very successful. Quite the opposite is happening. I play it infrequently. It still has potential for growth, but I doubt that it will ever have a population larger than 500K - if it ever reaches that number.


The other city that is a bit lagging behind is Polsay, with a population of 358'661. In that case I think that the physical layout of the city, and the presence of a very large body of water, explains why it is not keeping pace with the 'normal' cities. Here is its zone view:


There are in fact two cities on the same city tile: a larger one on the right (eastern) side of the large river, and a smaller one on the opposite (western) shore. Each side has the 3 zones, R, C and I. There are virtually no crossings on the bridges, Sims living on one shore find employment on that shore. Also, the river covers roughly half of the city tile. There is still some room for expansion, but that city will very likely remain relatively limited in population.


Because of the current sizes of the cities, there is no observable congestion yet, and certainly none at present at the borders between cities. I'll keep an eye on those, as the cities grow.


Ceafus, I note your interest for tram-in-road, and I'll have more to show in further posts.

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You did such a beautiful job with this update.

Really it was one of the most informative postings.. I have seen in a long time my friend.

I have several comments and at least one question in mind. I suppose i should begin my reply with my question before I should forget to ask it :huh:

I could not recall if you use the CAM mod or not in your cities ?

So now on to my comments ...

I really like how you provide enough variety in the maps and designs of your city, that you give yourself diversity in playing these 9 cities , to keep things lively and interesting for your game play.

I also notice quite easily how balanced most of your cities populations are. This is quite remarkable to me how close that 7 of the cities populations are. The 2 cities whose populations are lagging behind of course is also a great deal of interest to me .

Especially as you noted, the city in the center it would be worthwhile to find the cause some day ( if we are able to), why this city struggles such , when it seems to be in such an ideal location relevant to the position of the other cities, as you noted

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Thanks for the comments.

Yes, I use CAM, with what I consider as a fair assortment of CAM lots; surely I could add some more. In particular I don't think that I have the enormous condos that you are using with success, Brian, to push your populations to very large numbers. I should some day take the time to add new lots, and their dependencies, something which I find rather tedious.

I intend to keep the center city (Arcens) under close scrutiny, and we'll try to determine why it is relatively struggling.


For now I'll show some setups I use when tram tracks have to pass under highways and railway lines.

- The easiest case is that of tram-in-avenue underpasses. Here a tram-in-avenue passes under a highway, which is 4-lane wide on one side because of the entrance nearby, and 3-lane wide on the other side.



- I discovered a case where there is no tram traffic in the tram-in-avenue FLUP underpass: this is when the two sides of the highway are separated by one empty tile. In the next picture, that separation is required because the RHW-6S highway crosses a river (the extremities of the bridges are just visible at the bottom of the picture). In the center of the highway, where the avenue passes underneath, I use two FLUP puzzle pieces under grass terrain: apparently these puzzle pieces do not carry tram traffic. This is why I had to move the tram tracks on the side and use two SFBT Subway-Tram Transitions.



- There is no FLUP ramp piece for tram-in-road (or tram-on-road). Therefore I also use the method of moving the tram tracks off the road and using the same transitions as above. Here is a setup where the respective layouts of the railway tracks and of the roads that include trams, required two pairs of transitions rather close to each other.


Why use such a complicated setup? This is because the railway tracks, as well as the highways, were laid out, in each city, at the very beginning, so that they are considered as 'features' of the city terrain, I quite rarely modify their layout later on. The roads then came as the city grew, and the tram tracks were also added later, in two stages. I like to work with these 'constraints' in my game.

Because the SFBT transitions include a subway part, the above layout seen  in subway view shows two short subway tunnels:



Then there is the matter of tram tracks crossing rivers. I am not aware of bridges combining road or avenue, and tram tracks; on the other hand, bridges for plain tram tracks are available, and this is what I am normally using.


(By the way: I don't like the way the water texture looks in my cities. If someone can point me to a better texture, I'll be very obliged.)


Now I'll play some cities, before continuing with this DD.

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Pierre, very nice posting this morning.

I Always enjoy seeing your FLUP set ups, especially how you use those with your highways.

I especially like your creativity and your ability to improvise , when NAM is either missing the proper Transit puzzle pieces or you have run across pieces that are not functional...

But you have a great eye for detail concerning "eye- candy " elements in game and so its always a pleasure when you provide a good selection of pics of any of your cities really :)

As for water Mods..and of course I am unsure if you are in love with the water mod that i cam currently using...

I am using the Brittanica water Mod from Peg, But I am no expert on these water Mods and of course I install the first one that was suggested by someone else..

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Excellent update! :D I agree with Brian, excellent eye-candy. :) I used to have an amazing water mod, I will look for it again, if I find it I will be sure to let you know. :) 

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Thanks Clayton for the water Mod search

I recall Neal recommended the Brittanica Peg water Mod to me..

There is a pretty good chance also i am Mis - spelling it LOL

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None of my 9 cities has yet reached a population of 500 K Sims, but I am already having some congestion in my subway+GLR networks. Here for example is a situation in Marlande, where the network, like everywhere else, is being developed along with the growth of the city. The subway tube where I queried is dark red-congested, at 56'028 passengers. The tube on its right, a bit more orange-red, registers over 41'000 passengers:



An intervention is urgently required, especially since there is a maximum number of 'passengers': 65535 per tube (the same number applies to pairs of tracks): Once that number is reached, no more Sims can board the subway trains on that stretch. A new crossing of the river is to be built. I'll report later about the effect of that new crossing.

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oh yes you can still get Congested networks in a city of a half million if your not too careful  !

I wanted to comment on the

3 hours ago, pierreh said:

maximum number of 'passengers': 65535

.. it is my understanding as well as testing in my own cities that this value of 65535, is more a "reporting traffic limitation" of the game, but it does not actually effect the game play of Sc4.. So what i mean if you can still exceed that value of 65535, in any transit network in Sc4, but the game will not accurately report anything higher than that . But i have had instances where i Knew the traffic sources from different networks which converged into a single network that clearly exceeded this value in game.. And it is my assumption that for the game play aspects of the Traffic -Sim it still considers the actual amount of traffic ( even if it exceeds this value of 65535), not this limitation of the reported or  queried  traffic..

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On that subject, I beg to differ. A while ago I observed something on a congested railway line. At the time I thought of recording it, with a picture, but I was intent on fixing the problem rapidely, and I went ahead applying the fix. However, I recall very well what I observed, and I can depict it with the following image, which reproduces the setup before the fix:



All traffic was in one direction only, the one shown by the arrows. On segment A, I measured 65535 Sims. Then I took measurements on segments B and C. I got something like (numbers invented here for the demonstration):

B: 41310 Sims

C: 24225 Sims

The sum of B+C was, of course, 65535.

Which means that, because the game couldn't put more than 65535 Sims on trains on segment A, that number, and not more, was distributed between the segments B and C. If the game could support more than 65535 Sims on segment A, even if it could not show more, then the addition of the numbers on B and C would exceed 65535.

In the situation you depict, Brian, where you have incoming traffic from different sources merging into a single network (traffic going in the reverse direction in my pic above, say), where the sum is higher than 65535, I wouldn't be suprised if the excess was simply 'dropped' by the game, where the merge occurs.

And the reason is, I think, that the game uses 16 bits for that counter (and some others); 65535 is 2 power 16 minus 1. Some counters use more bits (probably 32 bits), like for example the city and region population counters, otherwise your cities and regions could never have more than 65535 SIms altogether. But, for the rail lines, subway lines, roads, etc. the counters don't support more than 65535 'units' (Sims, cars, etc) and when that limit is reached anything in excess can't be counted and gets dropped.

Well, this is partly conjecture on my part, but I am fairly sure about those counter sizes, because I was a computer programmer for many years.

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