How I Became A YouTube Fanatic

I have a job that requires me to sit at a desk for long periods of time, inputting data into a computer, with no human interaction. (I quite like my job.) I used to listen to music on my iPod Shuffle as I worked. (I still do listen to my iPod occasionally, even now.)

Every once in a while, I’d get tired of the same old music on my playlist, and I’d seek out new music on YouTube. When our laptop (the one with iTunes installed on it) lost its Clear internet connection, and I got tired of carrying the laptop over to the library or to Top Pot, I wasn’t adding any new songs to my iPod. I began using my iPod less often at work, and listening to music on YouTube more.

Eventually, I learned that there’s more than music on YouTube. I found old TV shows, travel videos, science programs, and video gaming channels. I discovered a YouTube channel run by a guy called Keralis. Among other things, he’d play Euro Truck Simulator. These videos were perfect for listening to while inputting data. It was just 40 to 60 minutes of a simulated truck driving down a simulated freeway, while Keralis talked about life in general. I didn’t have to pay attention – I could just listen. (Keralis, who now earns a living from making YouTube videos, was born in Poland, but now lives in Sweden. He won’t reveal his real name, but he has shown his viewers exactly where he lives, which – I would learn later – is exactly the opposite of how YouTubers tend to operate.) Keralis played other computer games as well, but it was his Euro Truck Simulator videos that I kept coming back to.

After a while, I began listening to YouTube videos of games I actually played, namely Kerbal Space Program, Cities: Skylines, and The Sims 4, even if they weren’t played by Keralis. My iPod Shuffle was rapidly losing its popularity with me.

Then I bought my first smart phone. A smart phones needs apps to actually be a smart phone, and, for an Android phone, downloading apps requires a Google account. And my Google account gave me a YouTube account.

With my YouTube account, I began officially Liking the videos I liked. I officially subscribed to Keralis’ channel. I subscribed to a few other channels I enjoyed. I got notifications whenever new videos had been uploaded to the channels I’d subscribed to.

I put a link to YouTube on my browser at home, so I could actually watch the videos I’d listened to at work. YouTube became my new television.

I become a YouTube fanatic.

Watching YouTube videos can, and often does, lead me to unexpected places. Sometimes the videos on the sidebar would relate to the video I was playing. Sometimes they would be videos I’d played in the past. Sometimes they seem to be unrelated to anything.

Somehow, I found a YouTube channel named Texan in Tokyo. (Or maybe it found me. I don’t remember.) It was a channel of day-in-the-life style videos of a couple living in Japan. Grace was the Texan. Ryosuke was native Japanese. I was fascinated. I’d never seen videos like these. I wanted to subscribe to their channel. Unfortunately, I discovered Texan in Tokyo right after Grace and Ryosuke decided to leave YouTube. I wrote about my discovery here. Fortunately, they left their channel, and all its videos, online.

I discovered that Texan in Tokyo was not unique. There’s a whole genre of “foreigners living in Japan” YouTube channels out there. There’s a lot of cross-promotion that goes on, too. (“Hello, everyone. Today I’m visiting Tokyo Tower with my friend Rachel, from Rachel and Jun. You can find a link to her channel below.”)

I love these “my life in Japan” video channels. (I’m sure there are channels by ex-pats in other countries, too, but I haven’t yet discovered the right search term to find them.) There are a lot of them out there, some I haven’t yet investigated, some I don’t especially care for, but here are my current favorites.

Rachel and Jun: Rachel is from America. Jun is Japanese. Their videos are mostly about their home life. (Jun has a cooking channel of his own.) Occasionally, they will make videos of their travels around Japan (mostly sponsored by travel companies). They make humorous “how to live in Japan” and “the differences between America and Japan” videos.

Tokidoki Traveller: Emma is a single woman from Australia, living on her own in Tokyo. She does freelance modeling, and other freelance work. There’s no telling how much longer she’ll be in Japan. Her videos are very personal stories of her life and adventures in Japan.

The Uwaga Pies: Kris is Polish. Kasia was born in America, with Polish parents. They met in Japan. Their earlier videos were about the street life and parties in Tokyo. They’ve broadened their subject matter somewhat. (Some of their videos are in Polish.) I have never seen either of them cook – in many ways The Uwaga Pies is the opposite of Rachel and Jun.

I discovered Rachel and Jun from Texan in Tokyo. I discovered Tokidoki Traveller from a random video about tiny apartments in Japan. (It was Emma’s apartment.) I discovered The Uwaga Pies from Tokidoki Traveller.

An interesting thing happened recently. I was listening to a series of videos from The Uwaga Pies about a vacation Kris and Kasia took to Okinawa. They went with several other people, including Rachel and Jun. They all stayed in a large hotel room. Kasia gave us a tour of the hotel room.

Later, I became curious about what Rachel and Jun had covered about that same vacation. In one part, Rachel gave us a tour of their large hotel room. As she passed the bathroom, I could see (and hear) Kasia giving her tour of the hotel room.

Back when we still had cable TV, there were a few reality shows I would tune into. Even though I knew they were scripted, they were, at least, close to reality. These “life in Japan” videos are giving me what I was trying to find on television. I was thinking about this today.

Level 3 Achieved

So, it seems, the secret to having popular concerts in Cities:Skylines is: High Ticket Prices.

Concerts

Just before the upgrade

I suppose the reasoning is something along the lines of: “Wow, these tickets are expensive! NESTOR must be awesome!” But I don’t know.

The other thing I discovered is that adjusting settings doesn’t have an immediate effect, because a band’s popularity doesn’t change until right after a concert ends. That makes sense.

Level 3

The Music Center festival area hosted 18 concerts, had one sold-old show, and a band gained a popularity of 85. Moonlight Fields now has a level 3 festival area, with an audience capacity of 1,000.

Concerts Keep The City Going

I’ve been playing Moonlight Fields longer than I’ve played any other city in Cities: Skylines, far beyond the point where I typically would call a city “finished”. I’ve unlocked all the tiles I can unlock. I’ve unlocked all the buildings and monuments I want to unlock (in other words, all the positive unlocks). Moonlight Fields still has room to expand, but there’s no demand for expansion, and I don’t feel the need to add any more sprawl.

Sign

(Hollywood Alphabet Pack by Crazyglueit, from the Steam Workshop)

Moonlight Fields is a successful city. It has a good income growth. Its needs for health, garbage disposal, and safety are met. Citizens are happy. It survives fluctuations in population. It maintains an average population of 110,000 citizens. It survives disasters.

I keep playing the city. I tweak  little things here and there. I fix busy intersections, and alter transit lines. I add landscaping here and there. I’m enjoying this city a lot.

Rocks

The thing that keeps me playing Moonlight Fields, more than just the enjoyment of a fine city, is the Concerts DLC.

Concert level 1

Concerts is like a game within the game. It’s like the Match Day DLC, but with more a more active player role. Rather than setting up the right conditions for a football stadium and then sitting back and watching your team’s wins and losses, Concerts allows upgrades to a festival area based on meeting certain criteria. The upgrade is a reward for hosting successful concerts. There are two upgrades (three levels of festival area quality) available. It’s a lot of fun.

Concert level 2

I did fine on the first level, and advanced to the second level. But now, I can’t figure out how to boost the bands’ popularity. In fact, all three bands are gradually losing popularity. I don’t understand it. The festival area has a monorail station, a metro station, a blimp station, and taxi stands next door. There’s a train station, with both local and intercity lines, a few blocks away. There’s a metro stop at the train station, in case you don’t want to walk to the festival area. There’s direct access to and from the freeway. As far as I can tell, no one should have trouble getting to the show.

Music Experience

I have advertising and the premium practice studio turned on. I’ve tried increasing ticket prices, and I’ve tried lowering them. I’ve tried adjusting the security budget up and down. After achieving a popularity of 80 in level one, NESTOR has dropped to 73. Once in the 50s, Lily La Roux and Elijha MOTI are both at 20. I need one band to have a popularity of 85 for the second upgrade, and I don’t know how to get there, and the internet, so far, hasn’t helped me.

But I keep playing.

Moonlight Fields Needs Cricket Players

The city of Moonlight Fields is booming. It has surpassed a population of 90,000, with plenty of space to grow.

The city has a cricket field, and is currently seeking a professional team. Currently, the field attracts only curious park goers.

Cricket

Moonlight Fields International Airport is bringing in a wealth of tourists. Its mass transit system can easily shuttle visitors to any of the city’s museums, nightclubs, stadiums, parks and performance centers.

International Airport

The city has tried to make even the busiest parts of town pleasant places to walk or relax.

Archway Park

Disaster Park

The city’s original freeway interchange, linking the oldest part of town, an industrial area, a tourist district, and a football stadium, was once the location of massive traffic jams. The freeway has undergone a major redesign. Service roads now tunnel under the freeway, away from the interchange. Road diets were put in place. Mass transit has been boosted. Traffic in this area is much better. There are always improvements to be made.

Freeway Interchange

Moonlight Fields continues to suffer the occasional sinkhole, tornado, forest fire, and earthquake. But the city’s disaster team is there to move citizens out of danger, and prevent as much damage as possible.

Fire Helicopters

 

 

Co-Designs

In an earlier post, I wrote about a tram service bridge that connects Moonlight Fields’ leisure/tourist line with the tram depot. This bridge, I wrote, was extremely popular with pedestrians.

After that post, I decided to extend the tram line across the bridge. Citizens could still walk across the bridge, over the freeway, or they could catch a ride on the tram.

The design challenge was that Cities: Skylines does not allow end-to-end tram lines. Trams must make a loop. Making a loop in this area, where space is small, and the tram enters from a steep decline, and exits up a steep incline, gave me impossibly sharp turns. (The game allowed the trams to make less-than-45-degree turns, but it doesn’t look realistic.) Demolishing the nearby park, to make more room, was an option – but an option I wanted to avoid.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Phillip and I, working together, came with this final design. The bridge branches into a Y intersection, to lessen the grade and soften the turns. There’s one, busy stop at the bottom. Citizens can still walk over the bridge, if they prefer. The park wasn’t demolished. I like this design we came up with.

Tram Bridge redesign

Phillip doesn’t play Cities: Skylines, but he does offer advice and critiques occasionally. And, sometimes, he helps me design things like the tram bridge or this bicycle bridge that loops for an easy ride between the lakeside bike path and the office district above it.

Bike Ramp

Welcome To Moonlight Fields

Moonlight Fields

Moonlight Fields is a city built on mostly flat terrain, with only slight changes in elevation. The area contains a few gentle rivers (not suitable for hydroelectric power) and a large lake.

There isn’t a lot of availability for renewable industry (farming and timber), so unfortunately, Moonlight Falls has to rely on oil, ore mining, and other dirty industries.

There is plenty of room for the city to grow. As the city expands, I’ve been careful to maintain green spaces and spacious public parks.

Labor Park

Labor Park

Public transport is built on a network of trams, taxis, monorails, trains, bicycle paths, and blimps. Moonlight Fields does not contain buses. (I thought I’d try something new with this city.) However, as the city gains more suburbs, a few bus lines may be added – or maybe commuter rail lines will do the job instead.

Transit Interchange

I love Cities: Skylines. It’s a beautiful game, with plenty of challenges and creativity. There are a few things that need improvement, though: the way ships spin around when leaving a dock instead of making a loop, the way cars crowd into one lane even when multiple lanes are available, and the way monorails make impossibly tight ninety-degree turns.

I can’t do anything about the ships, and mods like Traffic President can help with lane management. I can do something about the monorail tracks, though. In the city of Moonlight Fields, monorail tracks cut around intersections to avoid ninety-degree turns. This practice also creates green space.

Monorail Curve

Monorail Corner

There is an abundance of roundabouts in the city – which also creates green spaces.

Roundabouts

So far, there is only one tourism district and one leisure district in Moonlight Fields. They’re next to each other. Traffic became jammed in the area, so I built a tram line through both districts. The tram depot is right on the other side of the freeway, so I built a short tram-only bridge, over the freeway, just to connect the depot with the tram line.

The tourism/leisure tram line alleviated traffic somewhat. The unexpected benefit of the tram bridge is that huge crowds of citizens are using the bridge’s walkway to walk to the nightclubs and gaming centers rather than wait for the train. I certainly can’t blame them. (Maybe I should extend the tram line over the bridge, and give them a ride.)

Tram Bridge

Moonlight Fields in plagued with sinkholes. Geologists don’t know why.

Sinkhole

Don’t let the sinkholes (or the industrial pollution) scare you away from visiting lovely Moonlight Fields. There’s plenty to do and see here.

Stadium

The Surprising Neighborhoods Of Glenns Fjord

Glenns Fjord is expanding more than I had expected it to. As the population slowly increases, and I’m able to buy more squares of land, I’m finding more and more little areas suitable for building. Still, the terrain continues to be a challenge, and I’m enjoying that.

Glenns Fjord

The population of Glenns Fjord is currently around 23,000 citizens.

It even has a football stadium. When I started this city, I didn’t think it would have room for a stadium, but I found a suitable area with easy access to the freeway. Citizens can also get to the games by roadways, a pedestrian pathway, a bus line, and a blimp line. The Stadium neighborhood is working out quite nicely.

Stadium

One of the things I think is missing in Cities: Skylines is parking lots and garages. (Maybe that’s me thinking like an American.) So, I downloaded some lots from the Steam Workshop. (I love how friendly this game is to customization. That’s aimed at you, The Sims 4.) The parking lots work great – cars actually use them – they have the happiness bonus of a park, and they add some realism to commercial, business, and tourism districts, as well as transportation hubs and stadiums.

I don’t have a lot of custom content, actually. In addition to parking lots, I have a couple of filling stations, for that same sense of realism. I’ve subscribed to some custom buses, trams, and trains – for variety, and, it some cases, greater seating capacity. As for mods, I’ve subscribed to Traffic President (absolutely essential for forcing traffic to use all lanes), First Person Camera (not very beneficial, but fun for viewing your city up close), and Crossings (for adding mid-block crosswalks – another thing missing from Cities: Skylines).

Bus

Glenns Fjord’s newest neighborhood is named Seaview. It’s on the west side of the city. It’s a mixture of high density housing, offices, and a small leisure district. It’s home to the city’s Opera House and Grand Library. It’s surrounded by mountains on two sides, and water on the other two sides. Access to Seaview is from a tunnel road (with a tram line in it) through a mountain, a cable car over the mountain, and a ferry line along the river.

Seaview Entrance

I wrote earlier that a ferry line in Glenns Fjord seemed unlikely, but it now has a ferry line, and it’s very popular.

Seaview Ferry

One funny thing about Cities: Skylines is the scale of its buildings. Realistically, would a city of 23,000 have this many skyscrapers? (23,000 is the population of Bainbridge Island, Washington. I’ve been there, and I’ve never seen a building as tall as these.) Citizens must have huge apartments. Honestly, though, I don’t worry about it. It’s a game – a game where people fly to football matches in blimps.

Seaview Buildings

I love playing Cities: Skylines.

Ferry Sunset

Welcome To Glenns Fjord

My latest city is built on and around some rather mountainous terrain. It is requiring some engineering creativity. I’m trying to keep the terraforming to a minimum, and use the natural shape of the land. It may never become a megatropolis, and that’s OK.

As for mass transit, the city has cable cars and a tram line. A train line seems impossible, and I don’t know how I can fit in an airport. The deep fjords make  ferry lines unlikely.  Blimps are a possibility for future growth.

It’s a challenging city. Also, it rains a lot.

Welcome to Glenns Fjord.

Hilltop

Cable Cars

Twisty Highway

Sunset For Samson Valley

sunset

There comes a time in the life of any successful city I’ve created in Cities:Skylines when I realize it’s time to start creating a new city. Samson Valley has plenty of income, and no funding issues. It has plenty of room to grow. It survives disasters. I’ve spent a lot of time creating it. But when I consider expansion, it feels like simply filling in space.

sunrise

I’m now spending time tweaking intersections, upgrading streets here and there, aligning transit hubs – but not really changing much.

roundabout

international airport

north stadium hub

I spent time sitting back and enjoying the details of the city. I watch citizens go about their days – but not really playing an active role. I realize the city is completed.

quiet moment 1

quiet moment 2

quiet moment 3

It’s time to start a whole new city. I keep saying I’ll come back to revisit my old creation, but I never do.