Day 01

Spent most of the day in the JD 6210. First up was filling the water troughs for the pigs and sheep, before I could feed the pigs though I needed to move some crops I had stored over at Nagce Grain Store to the bunkers on the farm. I set the Farmking auger up at one of the bins and jumped in the JD 8530 leaving the 6210 connected to the Farmking for power. I then spent the next hour or so moving my corn, barley. sunflower and soybeans from NV Grain store down to my bins. With a bit of practice I'm getting more proficient at moving the auger between the bins. The final run to NV Grain was to bring some sugarbeets to one of the root crop sheds.

After feeding the pigs I'm back in the JD 6210 to head up to PC-SG Tactor and Grain to buy some hay and straw bales. I'll be the fist to admit I'm a bit out of practice when it comes to stacking bales but in the end I got them loaded up and back down to the animal farm. After that it was a simple matter of feeding the sheep their hay and running a load of straw over to the pigs.

bales.jpg

The rest of the day was spent mucking fileds 4 and 5 and getting about a third of field 3 done before the sun fell for the day. There's not much solid manure at the pig yard yet so I had to make repeated runs to the manure sell point at PC-SG to get these fields mucked.

manure.jpg

On my last run up to PC-Sg the owner let me know that my new JD R4050 sprayer was fully preped and ready for pick up. Left the JD 6210 and manure spreader up at PC-SG and drove the new sprayer back to the farm. Fortunately there was no late night traffic to deal with, that 4050 really eats up a lot of the road.

spayer.jpg

Nagce Valley 24 Day Season Edition – The Challenge Reloaded

My first go at the 24 Day Seasons Challenge got a bit side tracked. You see there is a peculiarity of the map maker psyche that compels us to rip our maps apart after a few hours of game play because we just thought of a better way to bring our farms to life. Sometimes we spot something in our own maps that drives us back into GE other times we something in another map makers work that pushes us over the edge. I used to think that the Giants Editor was a way to make Farming Simulator more enjoyable but I’ve come to the realization that for myself, and I’m guessing for other map makers as well, Farming Simulator is merely a justification for all the time we spend in GE. While I’ve spent well over 500 hours building Nagce Valley it’s likely that I’ve spent less than a tenth of that actually playing the map, and I’ve heard enough other map builders make similar comments to come to believe that the modders fate may well be cast in stone.

The UMRV map has been gaining a lot of attention as of late. While officially still in beta the map is very well polished and the team has done an outstanding job brining the community a map that really pulls off the look and feel of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. The maps creator has committed to being a positive influence in the mod community and I wish him and his team the best with the maps release. Needless to say UMRV derailed any aspirations I had of focusing on my play through and pushed me right back into the waiting arms of GE. What impressed me most was that the map takes something that I implemented on Nagce Valley and takes it to the next level.

One of the early features of Nagce that drove the feel for the map throughout its development was the grain bin auger layout on the main farm. It was one of the first features I incorporated and the one that once it was laid down I knew without a doubt would make it to the final cut. While it delivered the look I wanted functionally it was no different than the farm silo that exists on most FS17 maps, a tip point to dump into, a global store for the crops, and a fill trigger to get your grain back out. UMRV takes this to the next level by utilizing functional augers for adding and removing grain from bins that are unconnected to each other. To fill a bin you first need to maneuver the auger into place, set it up, and connect a tractor to power it. To fill a different bin you need to retract the auger, move it to the next bin and repeat the set up process. There is a second auger for transferring grain from the bin into the tipper which has its own set up process. While it’s still possible to put more than one grain type in a bin a bit of self-control makes it possible to realize a one bin one crop playstyle.

The static augers and bins from the release version of Nagce Valley

The static augers and bins from the release version of Nagce Valley

The functional augers and bins that I have in the dev version of Nagce Valley. While they may look the same they are a whole new ball game in game play. If you want to see the augers in action watch the video below from the UMRV team DR Modding

The functional augers and bins that I have in the dev version of Nagce Valley. While they may look the same they are a whole new ball game in game play. If you want to see the augers in action watch the video below from the UMRV team DR Modding

DR Modding

The augers and bins have been available for some time on American Eagles Modding; in fact the augers already on Nagce Valley use the same visual model but lack the functionality of the AEM mods. While I knew of their existence it wasn’t until I saw a video on the UMRV YouTube channel demonstrating their use that I knew what I was missing. There’s a bit of a learning curve on the augers, they’re not overly complicated but they’re not terribly intuitive either, and the casual player may not find them very engaging, but if you’re looking to run a realistic American farm they are hard to beat.

There’s a second change that I’ve been meaning to incorporate on Nagce Valley but held off as it was not seasons ready Seasons. Thanks to some hard work by Darrin Casesell the Apple Orchard is now, at least visually, Seasons ready. Darrin added the necessary textures and xml to allow the Apple tree’s to change appearance with the seasons and was kind enough to allow me to include these changes on Nagce Valley. Unfortunately we were not able to find a way to control apple growth to coincide with the seasons. We both played around with the ProduktPerHour and factor settings but it didn’t lead to the results we were hoping for. It’s not an insurmountable problem though. Apples will only be produced after water and compost or manure have been added to the trees. By using some self-imposed rules about when these inputs can be added, such as July through November, we can keep are apple harvests in season. Neither of us has given up on finding the magic Seasons settings but for now controlling the inputs seems like a viable solution.

Nagce Valley apples

Nagce Valley apples

There were a few more changes, multi angle terrain has been added, I removed the seed and fert fill triggers from the farm, so buying and transporting pallets is somewhat more essential though the fill triggers are still in place at PC-SG Tractor and Seed.

In the weeds and inelegant solutions to problems

Try as I might I did not find a solution for the Helper AI mucking about on field 10. My original plan was to release as is and find a way to let the player know that they would need to clean up after the helper on F10 but seemed like a cop out and I don’t think it would have sat well with me so I hammered out a different solution, it’s not very elegant but it works.

This is the shoddy level of commitment you would have come to see from the AI

This is the shoddy level of commitment you would have come to see from the AI

The AI No Work Zone circled in red. What to do?

The AI No Work Zone circled in red. What to do?

Rezone! (Simcity flash back). Field 10 and 11 are down on size a bit, but field 12 grew by a like amount so end of the day its all good.

Rezone! (Simcity flash back). Field 10 and 11 are down on size a bit, but field 12 grew by a like amount so end of the day its all good.

Nagce Valley after the rezoning 

Nagce Valley after the rezoning 

Now we can move on to the PDA problem that I couldn't solve and the sketchy work around I came up with. Looking at the PDA below should inform you where the woodchip sell point and Nagce Grain, one of the crop sell points can be found. The Map01.xml clearly says that it should, but look at the PDA and nada on finding either of those locations. Not to mention the markers at the vehicle sales and the stock yard are a jumbled mess.

map01.xml telling the PDA to display the wood chip sellpoint

map01.xml telling the PDA to display the wood chip sellpoint

1 wood chip sell point  2 vehicle sales  4 Nagce Valley Grain  5 stockyard

1 wood chip sell point

2 vehicle sales

4 Nagce Valley Grain

5 stockyard

pda_map_H.jpg

Version 3 of BulletBills Coldborough Park Farm hit the modhub today. Bill wasn't content with simply adding a snow mask to optimize CPF for Seasons. Bill went a step beyond changing tree and bush textures with the seasons and found a way to change the texture of the weeds as well. OK, weeds may be a stretch, I believe the editor refers to them as Eisenhut. In true American fashion I'll just assume that’s German for weeds without actually bothering to verify it’s so. The weeds do add to the realism of the map but that realism has fallen of a bit with the release of Seasons as summer weeds tend to look a bit out of place in the winter. Bill’s fixed all that and graciously allowed me to use his textures on Nagce Valley.

Incorporating the textures however did turn out to be a bit more of a challenge than I had originally thought it would be. The problem is that CPF used a single additional foliage layer called Eisenhut while the starter map that Nagce Valley was based on used six or seven additional foliage layers with enchanting names lie bush1, bush3 and grass2. Actually, it was a pretty simple fix, add the Eisenhut foliage layers and textures and get rid of the other stuff. I soon found that there was another advantage to making the change. With the multiple weed foliage layers that I had previously the only way to get some variety was to paint a bit of bush1, and bit of grass2, a bit of bush4. It was time consuming, The Eisenhut has a variety of textures built in so painting the one foliage layer creates a few different weeds, not the variety I had with the old weeds but pretty good and much less time consuming. The move to Eisenhut also cleared up another minor issue. Overlapping bush2 and bush3 could cause a black flickering effect. Since I’m no longer overlapping the textures the issue is no more. It may take me the better part of the night to paint in all of the Eisenhut textures but I think the results will be worth it.

Spring weeds

Spring weeds

Sumer weeds

Sumer weeds

Autumn weeds

Autumn weeds

Winter weeds

Winter weeds

Previous low tech winter weeds

Previous low tech winter weeds

A Season of Trees and Milk

The other day I more or less committed myself to a tutorial on tree replacement in a thread on PC-SG where we were talking about map customization for the Seasons mod. So here it is. There may be better ways of doing this, but this is the one I know.

Just a reminder, do yourself a favor and back up your work before giving this ago

The Seasons mod texture replacement system can change certain textures, trees for example, to match which ever season you’re in be it spring, summer, winter or autumn. To make things a bit easier on map makers there are console commands that can be used to force a given seasons textures to be loaded. After using the ssSetVisualSeason winter command from the console to load the winter textures I noticed that only one of the trees, the one to the right next to the barn, had lost its leaves. Not what I was hoping for but not completely unexpected either. The Seasons mod, you see, can only change the textures on the default FS17 trees, which means I’ve got a number of FS15 trees on my map (the ones that didn’t lose their leaves). This leaves me with two options, replace the FS15 trees with FS17 trees, or find alternate textures for the FS15 trees. Replacing the trees is the easier path and what I’ll be showing here though the Seasons mod Info for Map Makers documentation does cover how to add textures to the mod if you are so inclined.

The first step is to determine which trees on the map are FS17 trees and which are FS15 trees. If only I had a map on which I could be assured all of the trees where of the FS17 standard. Luckily Giants has provided us with two such maps Goldcrest Valley and the other one. Load up GCV in the Giants Editor and you will see the tree’s all have names like birch_stage2, birch_stage4, oak_stage4, maple_stage5, etc.

In the image above you can see that the scenegraph for Nagce Valley also contains tree names that end in LODs rather than a stage number. A quick check in GE confirmed that the trees that were not changing with the season all had the LOD names.

A quick note of caution, keep in mind that this is how the naming contention happened to work out on my map. If you are checking your own map you should to use the ssSetVisualSeason winter command to force the winter texture and then check your map for trees that did not change. Take screen shots to help you remember which trees are not playing well with the Season’s mod and then use the screen shots to help you find the trees in GE. You may find that the FS15 trees use the same naming convention in the FS17 trees. The following will still work in these cases but you may end up replacing FS17 trees as well as FS15 trees, but since there both getting replaced with known FS17 trees it should not be an issue.

You could replace trees one at a time but there is an easier way. First ensure that at least one of each type of tree on your map is the FS17 version of that tree, for example at least one of your maple trees is a maple_stage4 rather than a mapleTreeLOD’s, if not import a FS17 version of that tree. Next you want to select the tree that will be replaced from the scenegraph. In this example I’ve selected the birchTreeLOD’s.

Now select the replace tool from the edit menu.

The replace dialog will pop up with birchTreeLOD listed as the target

Now select the FS17 tree that you will be replacing the FS 15 trees with from the scenegraph

Click the load button, the FS17 tree should now show as the Replace With object.

There are some options to consider. If you want to replace your FS15 trees with an exact copy of your FS17 tree leave these options unchecked. I’d made some changes to the attributes of the trees on my map, namely scale and clip distances that I wanted to maintain. By checking the options as I have above my FS15 trees would be replaced with the FS17 i3d.s but would maintain their attributes. If I had checked the Keep Names option the trees would keep their LOD names as well. In this case I want the names to be changed to the FS17 names but there may be cases where you’d prefer to keep the existing name.

Now hit replace all and all of the FS15 birch become FS17 birch. repeat for the other trees on your map.

Birch, maple, and oak have all been replaced with their FS17 counterpart and are now seasons compatible. The sole hold out in the center is an elm for which unfortunately I have been unable to find a FS17 version.   

Birch, maple, and oak have all been replaced with their FS17 counterpart and are now seasons compatible. The sole hold out in the center is an elm for which unfortunately I have been unable to find a FS17 version.

 


Bonus Content - One of the features of Nagce Valley that I really like is the milk fill and sell points, even if their proximity to the slurry pit is most likely a health code violation. The one aspect of using the milk sell points that I didn't particularly care fore is their dependence on the stopMilkSale placeable. Functionally the placeable does what its meant to, stop the automatic sale of milk. What I didn't care for though was that this functionality could only be achieved if the player downloaded the mod, purchased it from the vehicle shop and then placed it on the map. Finding an unobtrusive location for a sign printed in German where I could actually place the sign was getting to be bothersome so I began looking for ways to incorporate the mod through GE so that the placeable would no longer be necessary. I tried a few things that didn't quite pan out until realisticpunk on FSUK pointed me to a thread on Marhu.net that showed a simpler solution. Turns out the ability to turn off automatic milk sales is accessible directly through the game engine. All that is needed is the addition of a boolean variable to the cowHusbandry transform group. It's quite simple

  • Select the cowsHusbandry transform
  • create a new boolean named automaticallySellMilk
  • leave the check box unticked
  • save and exit out of GE