I had hoped to write an update this week about the new residential and market area that I was working on but instead, here’s a post about the technical challenges that disrupted my focus and led me down a different route.
As I progressed through my save over the last couple of weeks, I faced long load times (3 minutes!) to start the game and the occasional crash which was too often to my liking. This seemed too early for a city in its infancy, and I started to get very concerned at the amount of friction that I was encountering. Small annoyances build up and can make it difficult for one to stay motivated and focused on a project and I decided to try and understand what was happening and sort it out. It all took much longer than I expected.
The short of it is, I was making too many newbie mistakes.
In my enthusiasm from discovering and subscribing to the many community-built custom assets that expanded my choice of buildings in the game, I ended up with an additional 2000 different assets in the save in just a couple of weeks. While the quantity contributed to the problem, there was also the issue of quality where some of these were not optimised for speed or came with errors and missing parts. At the same time, the breadth of options that I thought I was giving myself did not actually give me much diversity with some of the assets being only mildly differentiated from the other. This resulted in inefficiencies like using 3 different assets to achieve a look instead of simply using 1 but applying it differently.
It took me a while to discover these mistakes and it took even longer for me to screen and identify the problematic assets. This involved scrolling through the sluggish Steam Workshop interface and re-loading the game multiple times just to discover one thing. With the problematic load times that ranged between 180 to 15 seconds, a portion of my life dissolved into the loading screens and frozen displays never to return again.
While resolving the performance issues, I also took time to experiment with some of the assets and mods as recommended by the established builders on YouTube. Things as simple as getting a lighting asset to be in the right position, attempting to change the colours of the display, and being able to zoom in to street-level view, took some research to discover. It was a little bit frustrating to learn that it took so many steps to get these sorted, but now that I know how to do it, a whole new dimension has been unlocked.
All this brought me to a point where I had to choose between salvaging and refining the bloated save or restart with the right assets and mods in place. I agonised over the decision as I had already put in many hours in the earlier one. However, rectifying the save would also take hours to locate and replace the missing elements and cause dis-continuity with the earlier screenshots. There’s also the issue of havoc to my city statistics which would disrupt the story-telling and that bothered me a lot.
A few days of ‘sleeping on it’ and I then decided to Thanos it all and give Bumicity the ‘correcting’ it needs. A snap of a finger, or in this case, a finger tap on the mouse, cleared the land for a rebuild. I will still keep the intent and key design elements but better technical decisions will be made. To speed up the rebuild, I will export parts of the original save and re-use it in this version.
The rebuild is on the way and new screenshots will emerge very soon. I am also learning how to setup cameras and screen recording to get one of those smooth cinematic clips. That’s going to take a lot of experimentation again and who knows what will emerge. One can only try.