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Civ IV odd filestructure; how to apply "Blue Marble?"

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by tim28403, May 31, 2012.

  1. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Good morning and hello from Cape Fear, North Carolina. I've spent many hours over the years playing Civ II and Civ IV; and have long been a lurker on this excellent website - until now as I find it necessary to ask for help.

    I'm 60 years old and know how to use a computer. In fact, I've been using them since the early 1970s; and was later a mainframe programmer analyst. I didn't get a PC until the mid '90s at which time I joined the internet.

    While my experience with games is not broad, I was a great fan of Zelda, and then Sim City; the latter of which led me into the world of using modded files. Now I'm on my third game "addiction" - the Civilization series; and quite befuddled by the application of modded files; because (a) the file structure is odd, and (b) the documentation by modders is often dreadful (if it exists at all.) Furthermore, as I read more and more threads where this problem is noted, there are scant few replies. The attitude of this website, unlike that of Sim City's, appears to be "if you don't know how to use modded files, tough luck."

    The above said, I have managed to apply some modifications to the game but the Blue Marble "mod" (or whatever it actually is) has my stymied to no end...

    I unzipped the file and placed it on my desktop. I try to execute it but get the message: "Sorry, Civilation IV installation not found. Do you want to search for it?"

    Clicking on "yes", I tried to make it work in a variety of places in "My Documents - My Games" with no success until finally I placed it inside the actual program file of Civ IV (something one would never do with Sim City) and finally it executed. But...

    Okay, it executed but left me staring at a box with several options to select. I let it stay at the default settings and looked for some way to complete the operation but there was nothing... The box just sat there; no button saying "complete" or anything else. I was left with no option but the click the small "x" in the top right corner which made the box close.

    Where the files went (assuming they actually did go anywhere,) I've no idea. And this done, I still can't find any way to make it work. And assuming files did go somewhere, how in the world would I remove them at a later date?

    The webpage for the Blue Marble mod is very fancy:
    http://www.civfanatics.net/bluemarble/content/index.php

    But where's the documentation on how to implement it? THERE'S NONE. Would it be too much trouble to include a "read me" file? Good grief! How the heck do we use it?

    Sorry for the long post - but I've wasted many hours trying to implement modded files here due to the extreme lack of documentation. It amazes me the length people will go to create excellent mods and custom assets - yet provide nothing in aiding use of their product. Yes - there's a learning curve - but why make it so difficult?

    Thank you.
     
  2. GGracchus

    GGracchus Tribune of Rome

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    All you have to do is run the application contained in the .zip. Double click on the .exe and click on the "install high res"(or low res if your computer can't handle it). You can customize your text on the second screen, and check if you want to install backgrounds, terrain, textures, and leaderheads. There's an uninstall button. These are all above the "List affected Files"
     
  3. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Blue Marble installs directly to your custom assets folder. The mod is non-invasive, meaning it will work with anything - it's just there. To delete it just delete the custom assets folder. Civ IV will generate a new fresh custom assets folder. This is also where I install the recommend BUG/BULL mod as well so that it just runs when I run Civ.

    Make sure you run the executable with the "run as administrator" option. UAC can cause issues with mod installations if you don't use that option. It's possible you may install Civ in an different location or possibly the Steam version is different. BM should give you the option of pointing the installation to to right folder which should simply be the main Civ IV folder.
     
  4. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Thank you but did you notice in my post the error message I kept getting when trying to run the installation? Again, I am familiar with modded files and installations but what I had to discover on my own (after much wasted time with trial and error) is that in this case the install program would only run if it were placed inside the actual Civ IV program file first. Why the install would not execute off my desktop is beyond me; I've never seen anything like this before (and again, my game is on disk - it's not a download.)

    I do thank you again though for cluing me in on why the install didn't fully execute once I did find the right place to do it; that is, I assumed using the default settings no action was required by me - when in fact I was required to click either high or low resolution.

    Happily I now have those excellent graphics along with the one mod that I use ("New Balance.") But what I think about the incredibly absurd lack of documentation on how to implement this and other files I've seen here is, well, it's simply not fit for print. And again, when I see others make the same comment in mod threads, the typical reaction is to completely ignore them. Assuming everyone is automatically an expert on Civ IV file structure and it's bizarre (at least in this case) method of installation reflects not only laziness but arrogance - typical of companies and organizations in the "top spot" -but not a way to gain customer loyalty.
     
  5. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Thank you and will refer you for the most part to my post above. My only comment is I'ms a bit spooked by your suggestion to "delete the custom content folder if I want to remove Blue Marble." Being one may have other items in there... that could get quite messy eh?

    Thanks again, and I'll look up the "BUG/BULL" mod you referred to. Oh, have you ever tried the "New Balance" mod. It a real game changer that brings realism to the basic game - and it's fun to play.

    Tim in ILM, NC
     
  6. s.bernbaum

    s.bernbaum Mostly lurking

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    I installed Blue Marble long ago and did not like it. (BTW, the install was very easy for me, without knowing much about CIV at the time. I just followed the instructions that were part of the download package. Perhaps they no longer supply that file.) I had other things in CustomAssets as well. So, to uninstall it, I opened up the Blue Marble package and the matching folders in CustomAssets. Then I deleted everything that I saw in the Blue Marble package from CustomAssets. It is a bit tedious but it is a safe way to remove anything that you have added to CustomAssets and decided that you don't like. Since then, I have decided to use the back-it-up method: make a copy of CustomAssets before installing something new. If I don't like the new stuff, I delete CustomAssets and rename the copy as CustomAssets.
     
  7. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Sound like a good plan. The custom content here is really quite manageable because unlike Sim City there's scant little of it. In Sim City one must create a complex sub-file system within the primary Mod file (there is no custom content file, all content - mods, textures, lots, etc., go inside one master file. And then there's the even more complex system of "dependencies"; that is, one lot (building structure) may require bits and pieces of 2, 4, 6 or more other sub-files. It really gets quite dizzying; not only managing it but finding all the frigging pieces needed to implement a lot (to get the darned building to actually show up on screen.) The end result of all that work though is truly remarkable; the amount of realism one can create is insane.

    Thank goodness though we don't need do that here!
     
  8. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Tim and Bernbaum - You can delete custom assets with no issues. Civ simply generates a new fresh Custom Assets folder when you start the game again. Going through and deleting individual files is a waste of time. The only reason you may not want to delete the CA folder is if you have Blue Marble or BUG installed there. However, if you don't want them you simply delete the older...Viola!

    What I do is keep a copy of a vanilla CA folder with Blue Marble (BM does not affect any mods) and another version of CA folder with BM, BUG and BULL (Bug/Bull can affect some mods). I use a tool created by Ruff_Hi to switch between folders in 1 second. Main reason is to use BUFFY (also by BUG team since BUG conflicts with it, even though BUFFY is BUG)

    Blue Marble is so so so much better than vanilla graphics.

    Again, there is absolutely no issue at all with deleting your Custom Asset folder if you installed something there that you no longer want.
     
  9. gps

    gps King

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    With all due respect - and a lot of understanding for your situation and frustration, but please keep in mind that you are not talking about professional, commercial software here, but stuff that has been made by enthousiasts in their spare time as a hobby. It's bad that Blue Marble, which is a rather professional looking mod with a lot of effort made to ensure quick and easy installation, did not immediatelly work for you. With many different versions of Civ IV sold and many ways how and where to install it, that can happen. Even professional software does not always work. So please take care what you're saying...
     
  10. kimme

    kimme Chieftain

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    Does the Blue Marble addon work with Steam?
     
  11. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Thank you Lymond. I do understand what you're saying. Additionally, your point of keeping a duplicate CA folder is useful (if not critical) for any video game that can be modded. In Sim City for example, active players may have a "Mod file" (the single masterfile that contains all custom content) that ranges into the gigabyte size and beyond range. In my case, I keep it "down" to the 300 megabyte area, lol. And trust me, that's countless hours of work itself.

    I took a brief look at the BUG thingy but clearly need spend time understanding it more before considering using it. At what point is it effectively required? That is, is there some threshold where it's application is highly useful?

    Thank you for your reply,

    Tim in Wilmington, N.C.
     
  12. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    As I noted earlier, I recognize and appreciate there's a learning curve. My gripe was not that the documentation was confusing; my gripe was that there was zero documentation.

    In Sim City there's an array of terrain mods - all created by amateurs - and every one of them has a lengthy, complete, "read me" file on how to select options and install. Okay, this isn't Sim City but the concept applies to all games. Anyone capable of creating a complex mod obviously knows the ins and outs of installation. Why spend who knows how many hours creating something brilliant and then offer no explanation on how to use it?

    Below are links to the two web pages involved with Blue Marble. Look at them and notice the instructions. There are none. One can only wonder how many people downloaded the mod then tossed it out for not knowing how to make it work. If not for my fanatical persistence on getting those graphics, I would have long given up on it (while adding probably 3 to the download count.) As for versions of the game; well I have Civ IV Gold Edition which I bought at a local store years ago. I don't think there's anything particularly difficult about that.

    http://www.civfanatics.net/bluemarble/content/index.php
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=295876

    You noted the custom content here is created by amateurs and not professionals. Well, that's the whole point of modding. Sim City's fan site (a parallel to this one) offers custom content that dwarfs the offerings here by orders of magnitude -- all of it created by game players. And the application of that content is often far more complex due to the common usage of "dependency files" i.e. the need for multiple files - each from disconnected sources - to make one object function properly. It's not easy, and not everyone can handle the complexity - but many players do.

    I recognize Sim City is a different game but the purposes and concepts of modding are universal; adding reality to the game. Perhaps few here are familiar with games that are massively modded; I don't know. I just know it's normal to include include instructions, typically via a "read me" file that shows up when unzipping a download. Some here do it, some don't. I might guess that's because modding here is so limited in scope there is in fact a learning curve for the modders themselves (along with no oversight from management.) If so, I would suggest site management consider establishing standards of sorts; anything to reduce the anarchy in your custom content area. Or at least a lengthy, pinned or well highlighted area full of general information and or instructions written by an expert on file installation and management.

    As for anyone being "offended" by my post; well, if my gripe was not legitimate - I'm open to anyone explaining why. My goal is to improve game play; and when I have difficulty I know darned well others have difficulty too. I hope you'll pardon me for caring more about the untold number of fellow players who suffer silently for not fully understanding custom content than I fear treading on eggshells.

    Sincerely,

    Tim in Wilmington, N.C.

    P.S. I know what you're thinking...."Who let this monster loose in here?" LOL!
     
  13. gps

    gps King

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    Not too many, I guess, because the mod is a single-file-exe. Usually you can put it anywhere and as soon as you double click it it opens with some text and three buttons: "low res install", "high res install" and "uninstall". If it works properly, that's pretty selfexplanatory. So I'd say the modder did a hell of a job making it as easy as possible for anyone to use it. And if it does not work, there's this great forum with lot's of supportive people.

    Yes, probably the probelm is the limited modding scope here... :sad:
     
  14. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Think there is a .exe file for the BUG mod too, and the mod itself is excellent. Install it to the customAssets folder and you don't have to load it every time you play, it's automatically loaded.

    There are piles of options you can change via the game, but you don't have to do anything. I've not changed anything and it works perfectly well and is highly useful for extra information, like improved combat odds and various information during the game between turns (AI X, Y or Z will trade this, that or the other, for example).

    I also tried installing the BULL mod as that adds some filter options via a .dll file, but that hasn't seemed to "take". No big deal though, I hardly used it back when it worked on my desktop either.

    It would of course be nice if mods had 'normal' uninstall programs so we didn't have to manually delete them, but it's not really a big issue. I've never had to delete anything, though I suppose you probably have to if testing out various mods and removing others.
     
  15. TheWilltoAct

    TheWilltoAct I am observe

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    And if it doesn't work you're up a creek without a paddle, and the best advice is "well it usually works"? That is exactly why documentation should be forthcoming, to help the user navigate the software and troubleshoot issues that may arise, however rare.
     
  16. s.bernbaum

    s.bernbaum Mostly lurking

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    Yes, Lymond, I know this. As I mentioned, when I did the file by file delete, it was long ago before it occurred to me to back up the file before installing new stuff. The reason that I did not delete CustomAssets and let the new one be created was that I already had a few mods installed in CustomAssets and it was easier to ferret out the Blue Marble ones than to reinstall the others. Also, since then I have done a few minor mods of my own, such as removing global warming, which I have installed in Custom Assets. Hence, it is easier to use the back up and name change method than letting a new one be created and reinstalling everything.

    Graphics, OTOH, are a matter of taste, I find the Blue Marble graphics distracting from game play, so I don't use it. That does mean it is not a good mod, just that I like the older look better.
     
  17. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Yeah, I think we actually had that BM discussion I while back.

    I figured you did, but was primarily directing the CA point towards Tim. Your discussion of deleting files might be confusing for someone already confused by the CA folder, when deleting it is a simple solution in his case. I understand having multiple mods in CA and, like you, I keep several copies of the folder. The CA quick change tool makes is a snap to switch between them, and .bat files allow me to quick change DLLs.
     
  18. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    The OP must have had a problem with his version/his PC, because normally you get this screen:



    after clicking on the .exe (just downloaded it and opened it from within the Documents folder).
    The error was likely caused by some missing registry keys, due to either a problem with the Civ installation OR due to missing registry keys because it might have been an unknown version.

    The OP is in general right about the documentation in the download, because there's often none, but the thread here should in most cases provide some installation instructions. If not, you can always feel free to ask in that thread or open a new one for general instructions. Installing mods in civ4 is for all the same, so every modder should be able to answer nearly every question in regards to the installation.
     

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  19. tim28403

    tim28403 Chieftain

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    Usually? When I created software for mainframe computers I can just imagine myself telling users "well, it usually works." LOL. Okay - we're not talking about professional software here, I get that, but failing to provide proper documentation and relying on "it usually works" reflects either laziness or incompetence. I'm sorry but that's a simple reality. It's laziness when the designer knows better but just doesn't want to be bothered with documentation; and it's incompetence when the designer isn't aware the value and importance of it.

    I bought CIV IV Gold years ago new in the box from Best Buy. Pretty basic, right? I'm familiar with computer file structures and modding applications so I should have no problem executing an install program, right?

    What do I face with Blue Marble? Zero documentation so I operate on my own knowledge; I unzip the file to desktop so I can run the install. But what do I get? I get a message saying: "Sorry, Civilization IV installation not found. Do you want to search for it?" Yikes - I've installed a gazillion installation files in the past and never seen such a thing!

    So I read all I can find on this website regarding Blue Marble; I even Google it looking for any and all available information. No help. There's no installation documentation anywhere.

    What to do next? I guess it's time for "trial and error": so I head for "documents" and try the install in one folder after another...but alas, nothing works. As a last ditch effort I dare to go into my program folder and place the icon inside the actual CIV IV program - something my personal experience tells me I shouldn't do but I'm distraught so I go for it. Well what do you know - the darned thing suddenly executes! (Though I have absolutely no idea where the files went.) Furthermore, the box that came up on screen fails to note that I must click an object to proceed. (My grave error was to assume there was a default setting that would be adequate - so I simply closed the box without executing it!)

    A store bought copy of the game; prior experience with game mods; and I gotta go through this? And I'm to believe I'm the only one? Please excuse me for not buying that idea.

    The best critiques of businesses come from new employees; that's common knowledge. Might it also be possible the best critiques of websites come from new users and not old timers? I suggest some here might consider that possibility.

    Why should users spend hours looking in every direction for information that should have been self-documented in the first place? Where is the section that explains CIV IV file structure, general mod installation procedures, and so on? Is it possible some users are not proficient at this because the learning curve is so difficult?

    For a computer programmer there is no more basic rule than this: "assume all users are idiots." That's harsh and not necessarily true, but it instills in the programmer's mind the need for proper documentation.

    P.S. I ran all of my computer's cleaning utilities this evening then tried to install Blue Marble from desktop. Result? No change.
     
  20. gps

    gps King

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    http://forums.civfanatics.com/forumdisplay.php?f=158

    Sorry pal, I don't really get you. You get a lot of great mod stuff here and a lot of people from the forum trying to help you - and all we hear from you is calling people "lazy" and "incompetent"? Do you really think this is an OK attitude - if you're the one who wants or needs help? Well whatever. Wasting my time here. CU...
     

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