Welcome to the Guide that will teach you how to build transport networks in Cities XL, using one of the most complex and fun systems devised-to-date! Here you will learn step-by-step how to build Curved roads, Bridges with variable height and much more!
Road building system
The way you build roads in Cities XL is nothing short of amazing. This is one of the aspects to which Monte Cristo paid the most attention and the results are great indeed. First of all, the maps are inherently grid-free, which means that you can build in any direction that takes your fancy, and you're not constrained by anything but the natural features of the land. The engine allows you to build almost any kind of road you could think of, using any shapes you could invent. And more: after you build a road, you can click on any stretch of it and use upgrade options to change many aspects of the road, such as number of lanes, direction of lanes, or sometimes even the type of the road. The one thing you can't change is the width of the road - if you want to put a wider, bigger capacity road, you need to bulldoze the old one and draw the new one.
Planning the road
To start building a road, first select the type you want to build. Go to the Construction menu>Transportation>Roads and select one of the thumbnails below to enter building mode. Start either by clicking anywhere on the ground, or on an existing road or road end.
When you start building a road, or any transportation network for that matter, you'll first draw a 'blueprint' of the road. Every time you left-click you'll create points that fix the blueprint to this location and act as possible direction changers.
To the right of the game screen an infobox will have appeared when you entered Building mode - check it for in-game directions on how to build stuff.
The blueprint will be green if everything's OK, and will turn red if there's a problem hindering construction. You'll also see small icons at the problematic points that give you an idea of the nature of the problem, like 'slope too steep', or 'not enough space for the road'.
To complete the road and place it permanently, click again over the last point you've created.
You have three main tools at your disposal:Straight tool - it builds straight sections from point to point; it won't snap to any grid or direction, but when you're building into one of the 8 main compass directions in relation to the last point, the road blueprint will turn blue (otherwise it's gonna be either green or red) 8-orientations tool - this one will snap to an invisible grid in one of 8 directions in relation to the last point, eliminating the annoying for some people grid-free map. Handy if you're a fan of planned grid cities. Curved tool - the big innovation of the system, it allows you to build curves, instead of straight lines. Use the points to fix the angle of the curve, and/or change direction.
Note that you can't use a mix of the three tools - while you're still 'planning' the road, you can change freely which tool you're using, but changing the tool will also change the blueprint you've drawn so far. However, you can build the road step by step, changing tools after completing each step. By planning ahead and using your fantasy you will be able to create almost any network you could think of.
The construction costs are calculated while you are planning the road - look at the infobox to the right of the game screen to see the final cost of the construction (this is the direct sum of cash that will be subtracted from the Budget when you confirm the construction). The cost is calculated per length, so the longer the road - the larger the construction cost. Also, different road types have different costs per 'meter' - the larger the road, the bigger the cost. After you build the road, you'll have to pay monthly maintenance fee for it - again, the amount depends on how long the road is, and what is its type.
Going around existing structures.
When you want to trace a road right next to existing structures/fields, you'll have some problems, mainly due to the grid-free system. You want, of course, to place the road adjacent to the existing stuff, not too far away, and this is especially an issue when you're replacing old roads with larger ones. However, the game will tell you there's no space for this road, and it'll always look like the road is just too big. Calm down, and do the following:
1. Click on the desired road, select either the straight tool (works better usually) or the curved one,2. Hover right next to one of the existing buildings (the red entry point would do well) - the mouse pointer will snap automatically at the correct distance for the new road.
3. Click to start drawing, then little by little trace the road, first to the edge of this building, then to the edge of the next one, etc. The engine will usually snap the roads to the buildings, unless you're doing something wrong. The straight tool and moving slowly should do the trick.
4. When you've almost reached the road where you're going to connect (like the last building before the crossroad), click and confirm the road.
The problem comes, however, when you try to join the new road to an old one, and there's a building at the corner. Currently, the engine just tries to center the two roads, and the new one inevitably runs into the corner building, ignoring the space on the other side. The only possible solution (for now, until someone improves the junctions handling) is to destroy the building at the corner. That's why I told you earlier to confirm the road BEFORE you try to reach the crossroad. If you didn't there's no way to finish, and you'll lose all the careful tracing you've done so far.
Crossing roads (junctions)Because of the grid-free system crossroads are much more varied in Cities XL. You can have them in almost any shape and you can join as many roads as there is space. The only constraint is a minimum angle.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to merge roads, without causing a traffic light to appear. So, we're not yet able to join a small road to a large avenue, where the road simply melts in the avenue without stopping the traffic, the way a ramp would join a highway. Also, there are no 'slave' road junctions, where a small road will cross a big one without a light, on the 'Yield' principle, so as not to interrupt traffic on it.
This means that each junction is a potential traffic jam.
We have Roundabouts, however, which allow joining roads without stopping traffic. Currently, they are set pieces which connect only to a limited range of roads, but we might expect more varieties in the future.
Building bridges and tunnels
Building Bridges and tunnels is combined in Cities XL with the very elegant solution of adding a 3d dimension (elevation) to the normal road building tools. The trick is that now you can also control the height of the construction by pressing SHIFT keyboard key and moving the mouse up or down to raise or sink the bridge or tunnel. In this way you can elevate the road above ground level and create a bridge, or sink it bellow ground level and create a tunnel.
Building a bridge
After you select from the menu the type of bridge you want to build you will start drawing the bridge or tunnel, using the Curved tool, which makes the job easier (for some reason MC removed the Straight and 8-directional tools from the Bridge construction interface, but there are mods that bring them back so you could use them). You can start either by clicking on an existing road (and the blueprint will start at the elevation of the road), or you could start 'from the air' - just be careful with the elevation! Generally, it's easier to start from an existing road, as with normal roads construction.
The mouse has an additional line above or bellow the point to show current elevation in relation to ground level, and allowing you to have an idea where exactly you are in relation to the
The points you create here will serve not only as direction changers, but also as elevation changers. So, by clicking a point you can start going in the opposite elevation direction, for example you can achieve the maximum hegith of the bridge, click a point, and then start going down.
Of course, there are some tricks and you'll need some time for experimenting in order to figure out the limitations of the system. The first serious problem (not present when building roads) is too abrupt elevation change - you'll get an error message like this:
... so, always raise or lower the bridge/tunnel gradually! You'll need some time in order to figure out the maximum inclination possible, and how to incorporate that into the decision how far away from obstacles to start the bridge/tunnel, so you won't get an elevation error, and still be able to achieve the necessary minimum height/depth for overcoming them. Be patient!
So, let's try to build a bridge over an existing road - one of the most often performed exercises in the game.First, keep in mind that you need some space before you reach the other road for the initial elevation of the bridge:
Click a point when you think you've reached the point of the minimum space, and start raising the bridge.
Smaller roads need less space, because their maximum height requirements are a little lower than larger roads.
Right before you reach the other road, click another point:
This way you can make the bridge level while crossing the other road, and prepare it for lowering.
Now, drag the blueprint over the road.
Once on the other side, click another point, and start lowering:When you reach the ground level, click another point. The way the cursor shows ground level is when it's half-sunk in the ground!
It's advisable at this point to drag the blueprint a bit horizontally at ground level, to create a smoother transition point:
To complete the bridge, you can either terminate it in the normal way, clicking on the last point (just be careful not to leave the end some 10 meters above ground), or alternatively you could connect it successfully to an existing road.
Again, the blueprint will be green when there are no problems, blue when the bridge is straight, and red when there is a problem somewhere along the length of the blueprint - look for the poblem icons!
The tools for building tunels are the same, and the method is similar - only this time you'll be digging in the ground!. Most problems with tunels arise when trying to pass bellow structures, not roads. Unlike roads, structures have deep foundations, which may interfere with the tunel, so you'll need to generally achieve greater depth than you would need when going bellow roads. And again, you'll need free space for the entrance and the exit of the tunel.So, let's start the same way as you would with a bridge, but this time sink the blueprint:
You'll notice it's a bit more difficult to operate it visually, because of the offsetting of the level in relation to the other structures. Now, try to go under them:
You can see that the depth wasn't enough!Come back a bit, click a point before the neighborhood and sink the blueprint more:
Now the depth is sufficient - the tunel goes freely beneath all houses.
When you pass the obstacle, start raising the level, but again beware not to raise it too quickly! Reach ground level and again make a small horizontal stretch for transition:
Using the Bridge/tunnel tool to go on slopes
Besides passing over or under obstacles, the tool can be used to also go up (or down) steep slopes. This is possible because the allowed inclination gradient of the bridge/tunnel is bigger than the gradient of the normal road. Of course, there are limits - you aren't building a roller coaster, after all, but a road on which heavy vehicles will need to go.
So, when you notice that a road can no longer handle the inclinations or the terrain, start a bridge and use its greater inclination allowance to keep going up or down - simply keep the road on the surface, instead of sinking or raising it.
Note that when the bridge/tunnel is very near the ground level, it will allow road access to buildings, just as normal roads.
There is a respective bridge model for every road model in the game (including the National packs). The so-called 'default' roads also have an additional model, which simply has different skin. Regardless of the model and size of the bridge or tunnel, all of them are connectable to all valid roads, with the exception of the Highway bridge, which is only connectible to a Highway.
Note that Bridges and Tunnels cost much more to build and to maintain than the correspondent road type! So, be careful when deciding to construct such structures, and make sure your Budget can handle it!