Tag: pittsburgh

Yinzerstan: My Civ 5 Mod

This is the wen site of the Yinzerstan mod for Civilization V. I will add some spiffy images and screenshots at some point. For now, here is a brief description of what I did.

I wanted this to be a fun and humorous homage to the city of my birth, Pittsburgh.

The leader of Pittsburgh is Hugh Henry Brackenridge, a person a lot of Pittsburghers probably never heard of. He is closest thing to a founding father that Pittsburgh has. As a young man, he was a friend of James Madison. He became a frontier justice in the Pittsburgh area soon after the American Revolution, and eventually ended up on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He founded a school that grew into the University of Pittsburgh.

I’ll be honest: I wanted a different person as Leader. When I think of all the important people in Pittsburgh history, and ask, which one would I want to be my leader, it’s a very easy choice. However, no matter how great a leader he would be in real life, I highly doubt Mr. Rogers would approve of his image being used in a game where an effective strategy is often to attack anyone you see on sight. Even when it’s at its most pacifist settings, it’s still a pretty violent game. To say nothing of the fact that his estate still owns rights to his likeness. So, I chose Hugh Henry Brackenridge instead. Well, at least we get a history lesson out of it.

A lot of the generic buildings from Civ V have been replaced by specific examples in unique to Pittsburgh. For example, Giant Eagle replaces the Granary, The Benedum Center replaces the Theatre, and the Allegheny Observatory replaces the ordinary Observatory. For the most part, these buildings behave identically to their counterparts. (Though I had to take out the ridiculous +2 Science you get from jungle tiles for the University of Pittsburgh.)

There are four buildings which have special behaviors, though. The three sports venues (PNC Park, Heinz Field, and the Consol Energy Center, which replace the Colosseum, Circus, and Stadium, respectively) each add +1 Faith to the empire. Yeah, that’s pretty much a joke on the importance of our sports teams in our life. (I briefly considered having PNC Park yield +2 Faith, but the Pirates have been good for a few years now, so that joke wouldn’t work any more.) Although I didn’t really try to balance the game in general, I did remove the ability for Yinzerstan to build a Temple. (However, you can still have a temple if you capture a city that built one.)

The fourth building that has special behavior is, of course, the Steel Mill, which replaces the Factory. The Steel Mill requires both an Iron and Coal resource to build (the Factory only requres Coal) but it results in a massive increase in Production.

For the icons representing the buildings, a lot were photographs I took myself. In other cases I used Creative Commons licensed files from Wikipedia.

The cities in Yinzerstan I named after Pittsburgh suburbs and neighborhoods. The order is kind of biased toward the east suburbs (since I grew up there) but I tried to mix it up. I was never a fan of the north suburbs so I only included fewer of those. I limited it to Allegheny County.

I am thinking about some making some sub-mods that only use suburbs in a single cardinal direction, and another one just for neighborhoods within city limits.

In the meantime, if you don’t like the order of the suburbs I’ve chosen, you can try to find the XML files where list the cities and change them.

A couple other random tidbits. The icon for Yinzerstan of course had to be the Steelers logo, which is actually a logo for the Steel industry, that is used by the Steelers. (Fun fact: the organization that owns the logo also tried to get the Cleveland Browns to wear it.) The theme colors are black and gold, of course. And, for lack of a better source of names, I named the spies after sportswriters.

What Belt?

In New Jersey, a common local idiom for asking someone where they are in the state is, “What exit?”, meaning what exit of the New Jersey Turnpike would one have to use to get to where you are. Over time it’s even come to be used more generally to mean simply, “Where?”, regardless of one’s position relative to the Turnpike.

There is actually a bit of underlying significance to this question beyond being a quirky idiom. To some extent, what exit you live on in New Jersey also determines what kind of lifestyle you have, since the character of the state of New Jersey changes as you travel along the Turnpike. (Obviously it’s not a perfect system, but in general, low exit numbers refer to the more rural southern areas, middle exit numbers to the suburban central areas, and high exit numbers to the industrial urban areas near New York City.)

I know of no other places that have local idiom like that, but it seems like there are many places where lifestyle correlates to nearby roads. Many locations could have a question like that.

In Pittsburgh, my home city, the question would be, “What Belt?”

The Pittsburgh area, being on the western edge of the Appalachian Range, is a mess of hills and streams, which makes it more or less impossible to have any geographic sense over a large area. Various boroughs (which is the Pennsylvanian word for town) and small cities have their own street grids oriented parallel to the nearby stream, but as soon as you leave the borough the streets begin to twist and turn, following the landscape, so that nearby boroughs will have completely separate grids and no common sense of direction. For this reason the Pittsburgh area is notoriously difficult to navigate.

To help people navigating the suburbs, Allegheny County created the Belt System. These are a system of road routes that circle (partially or fully) the city’s downtown. The Blue Belt is innermost Belt, it circles the city near the city limits. As you go away from the city, you hit other belts, in the order the colors appear in the rainbow. So the Green Belt is further out, followed but Yellow, Orange, and, in the northern suburbs, Red.

The Belts are the key to navigating Pittsburgh’s suburban roads: if you are on a belt, you know you’re generally moving around Downtown Pittsburgh, not toward or away from it. If you are lost and happen upon a Belt, you know roughtly how far from the city you are. If you are on a Belt, and turn off it, you’ll know whether you’re now moving toward or away from Downtown. The belts are quite well marked, so they are hard to miss. It’s a great system.

But, because the Belts all circle at a relatively fixed distance from the city, the also tend to have relatively fixed characters (although, as with the New Jersey Turnpike, it isn’t perfect). The Blue Belt circles through a lot of the blighted neighborhoods, for instance. The Green and Yellow Belts hit a lot of suburban areas and boroughs, while the Orange and Red belts hit some of the rural exurban areas and outlying boroughs. There’s a Purple Belt, too (which is separate from the Belt system), which is is entirely Downtown, and there probably ought to be an Indigo Belt for some of the city’s trendy neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill, Oakland, and Mount Washington.

Point is, what Belt a Pittsburgher lives on says a lot about their home and lifestyle.

So, the obvious question is, what belt did I live by?

I was born on the Green Belt, but earlier than I could remember, my family moved to the Yellow Belt and stayed there till I graduated from college, and the whole family moved away from the Pittsburgh area.

The Yellow Belt didn’t really suit me, though. If I were living in Pittburgh today, my belt would probably be the fictional Indigo Belt I mentioned above, or even the downtown Purple Belt.

Anyone visiting from the Burgh who stumbles across this page for some reason, I have a question for you which you may answer in the comments below: What Belt?

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