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Conquering the Infamous “Yellow Screen of Death” Bug in Cities: Skylines 2

As a long-time fan of the City Skylines franchise who has logged over 200 hours building intricate virtual metropolises, nothing shocks me more than loading up my masterpiece Milwaukee recreation only to find its beautiful brownstones blotted out by hideous yellow splotches.

This horrifying “Yellow Screen of Death” graphics glitch is the bane of many a proud mayor’s existence. But fret not, friends…in this guide, I‘ll share everything I‘ve learned about banishing the bug forever!

A Brief History of Colossal Order’s Hit City Building Series

Before diving into technical troubleshooting, let me take you on a brief tour of the Cardboard Computer game studio, founded in 2009 by a small team of simulation fanatics in Helsinki, Finland. Even in 2011 when their first title Cities in Motion launched, the studio showed incredible promise.

But it wasn’t until 2015 when Colossal Order took the gaming world by storm with the original Cities: Skylines. By building on their robust simulation engine and adding deep customization options, the game became an overnight hit for letting everyday people realize their wildest mayor dreams!

Over the past 7 years, Skylines has continued to cement its status as the undisputed fan-favorite in the city building genre. Despite competition from industry giants like EA’s SimCity franchise, Colossal Order’s plucky team of developers keeps delivering mountains of high-quality content through paid expansions and free updates alike.

However, more complex systems introduce more possibilities for failure. Which finally brings us to the dreaded yellow screen plague marring the launch of the highly-anticipated Cities: Skylines 2!

Peeling Back the Layers of Cities Skylines’ Rendering Pipeline

To truly conquer frustrating graphics glitches, I’ve learned you need to understand what’s happening under the hood. Here’s a quick crash course on how your city gets turned into pretty pixels on your screen:

  1. The simulation engine keeps track of every little detail happening behind the scenes – citizens moving through traffic, sewage flowing through pipes, availability of jobs and goods. This data all feeds into…
  2. The rendering engine which decides exactly what needs to be drawn each frame as you pan around the map. It batches up objects like roads, buildings, vehicles into groups for efficiency. Each group goes through…
  3. Post-processing effects – special shaders and filters that add realistic lighting, shadows and colors based on time of day. For underground views, the Tunnel Pass adds ambient occlusion and bounce lighting.

Of course, Cities Skylines 2 pushes these systems even further for richer simulation and graphics. But that makes the pipeline more delicate and prone to hiccups!

Triaging the Root Causes of Yellow Screen Death

Based on reports from players and my own testing across different hardware setups, the yellow screen bug seems to specifically stem from the post-processing layer.

Enabling developer mode reveals that the TunnelPass shader designed for underground roads sometimes bleeds through and gets applied above ground too! The opaque yellow color ends up overriding other textures randomly.

Simply disabling TunnelPass instantly resolves the graphical glitch, but also removes proper shading and shadows from tunnels and trenches. It’s a shame to lose such a cool immersive effect due to a pesky rendering issue.

After poring through forum posts and compiled lists of recommended mods, I have yet to discover a perfect solution that restores underground lighting while preventing yellow bleedthrough. For now, the workaround above remains our trusty plan B while hoping Colossal pushes out an official fix!

Coping Strategies for Life Without The Tunnel Pass

If disabling TunnelPass leaves your underground infrastructure feeling dreary, here are a few tips…

  • Use the Road Upgrade tool often to view tunnels during construction. Save frequently in case you lose track!
  • Install Eyedropper and Surface Painter mods to color-code different underground networks.
  • Refer to older savegames or screenshots to remember complex interchanges until upgrades come through!

I‘m happy to link to more fan-made mods and assets if folks still feel limited by the lack of proper underground renders. Drop your requests in the comments below!

Parting Words of Wisdom

With over 200 hours under my belt so far, Cities Skylines 2 stands tall as one of the most polished and playable city builders ever created. No game is free of bugs, but the level of post-launch support from Colossal Order remains impressive as always.

I hope this guide gave you insight for squashing those pesky yellow screen issues yourself, plus inspiration to keep building your virtual metropolis despite any temporary setbacks along the way! What tips would you share for newcomers and veterans alike tackling obstacles in Cities Skylines 2? Let me know!