Thursday, September 20, 2012

Custom UNI Hood

And nothing says getting out of hand like a project exploding into a full hood... If I'm going to be making all these awesome new buildings for a university, I should prolly make the university as well. I don't really want to make the SC4 terrain so I found a lovely one by my new favorite map maker, Nepheris, called Maple Lake. I'm always looking for some smallish maps with roads that aren't too far apart or look silly, and Maple Lake is turning out to be just perfect. I took some grid paper and have gone to town ;) designing the layout of the new Uni hood. There was a few tiny leveling issues in the center of the map so I had to edit it in SC4. While I was at it I connected the sports complex road to the village. I may or may not keep it like that.

I'm referencing my own University as to what buildings are required, and I nearly forgot the Frat Houses. I hate them and never play them, but I'm sure somebody out there just loves them, so I can't leave them out. And what's college without loser frat guys having wild keggers and leaving red cups littered everywhere 4 nights a week?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

University Comm Lots

And this project is quickly getting out of hand. After I made the dorm I didn't want to decorate it because that would require some extra EPs and SPs I didn't want to include. So I decided to make a University Store that had everything incoming freshman would need. But that quickly got out of hand too. It was ugly and needed a bunch of EPs/SPs. So the next logical thing to do was to divide the store into separate shops, have a bookstore, an art store, a music store, a furniture store, an electronics store, and a clothing store. That way as many people as possible can use as many of the stores as possible. I only need FT for the music and art stores, why require it of all of them?

Then I got to thinking what about all the other community lots on a college campus, what if I did minimal EP versions of them as well? I could have a co-rec that only needs FT, a Student Union with NL (bowling) and BV (food dinners). I'm just getting carried away. Then I started thinking about the Stadium and sports complexes. I can build some of them, but some just look better as Criquette's hood deco, so I was thinking why not include a SC4 map of a university. Make a version that is as simple as possible, and then do a full complete version that uses all of my lots and requires a bunch of them for those people who have everything already.

Then there are the actual academic buildings. Most people tend to leave them out because there isn't much point to them, sims won't really go there for classes, but I like seeing where I can pretend my sims are going to class and I like the buildings taking up space in the neighborhood. For that reason I've complied a list of all the Uni majors and all the Maxis career paths and sorted them out into Departments. With just the majors I had it combined to 5 departments, but then when I added in all the career paths I found other commonalities between them that should be recognized on their own. My college will have 10 department buildings: History, Law, PoliSci, Math, Business, Science, English, Design, Theater, and Psch/Phil. These buildings will all have classrooms, offices, computer labs, and specialized rooms specific to the needs of the dept (such as labs for Science, studio space for Design, theaters and practice rooms for Theater). Many will also have their own libraries. As far as I can tell, Mootilda is the only one to have included academic buildings in her college, and it was brilliant. She also did it as a custom Uni template, and I'd like to look into doing that as well perhaps. Though, perhaps not to keep the EP requirements down. The Design and Theater Colleges are likely going to require FT, but I think I can manage without that for the rest of them.

Everything is just getting out of hand - like it should! It's exciting when a project starts running itself! Gosh I'm having so much fun just thinking about it all!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

UNI and IKEA Dorm

Ok, I am more than happy that something has finally beaten Afterschool Activities in my poll. Particularity one I want to work on at the moment. After spending nearly all day yesterday in shock from the new of my promotion to Super Moderator, I eventually managed to do something useful. One of the things on my list was to build a dorm that actually seemed to look like a real dorm. I created one and based its shape and dorm rooms off a dorm at my school. I still need to do some final tweaks to it and test it to make sure everything is accessible, but I'm already much happier with this one than any of the Maxis dorms. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

OMG I'm Purple!

Sometimes I guess it really does pay to be patient.  I've been staff here at MTS for a little over 4 years and today I got promoted. I even skipped a level. I'm super excited to be purple, and a Super Mod now. This means I now have privs in all areas of the site, not just Bodyshop and Downloads. In the next few days I'm likely going to be organizing TS2 Objects and Modding forums, unless I get a real job handed down to me. Its always been my goal to help creators, and I feel if information is easy to find, its easy to create things. TS3 create areas are still in flux because we are still getting new EPs, but TS2 is set in stone now. Its about time to give it a good cleaning and organizing!

So happy to be my favorite color! Makes me feel ok that I don't dye my hair purple anymore (just graduated college, looking for a real job, remember?)



Friday, September 14, 2012

Pretty Little Houses

So, its been like almost 5 whole days since I posted last. To be fair, I'm currently job hunting. Anyways.

I've recloned all 5 of my bug houses and got all of their effects working. They are super cute! I'd show you picture of them all, but I only have the meshes done for 2 of the 5. I redid the beehive because I was hating it, and I finished the butterfly house. I'll work on finishing the meshes of the moth, fly, and firefly next. When all that pretty stuff is done, then I need to really dig into the BHAVs of it all. That's usually where projects take the longest and get sidetracked. It's not a good place to be.

I also fixed them all so they are recolorable and have the same catalog ratings as the ladybug house. Fun is not advertised (as it was in the Flinko), and Environment score is set to 1. Apparently, just changing it in the catalog does change the real value. I covered an empty lot in these things and watched my sims' enviro score sky rocket. It was more than entertaining to see an entire lot covered in butterflies. :P

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Progress and Research

I spent last night re-working my existing beehive because I couldn't remember what I cloned it from and I'm always trying to make things as base-game as possible. The vast majority of this set will require SSNs, but I think it would be nice if I could make a few with versions that didn't.

The beehive is now cloned from a flamingo, so bad sims can come up and kick the thing. The idea though, is kicking it will then cause the bees to swarm out and chase you. I realize that's a BV/FT interaction, so I'll look into using the BG fly swarm for the BG version. I also intend to have the Fly/Maggot Farm react the same way; kicking up a swarm.

Ladybugs, butterflies, moths, and fireflies will not be kickable. Or if they are, it won't cause harm to the kicking sim.

The second thing I was working on was doing research on when these bugs are most active. I want to have their odds of spawning on the lot coincide with reality. Turns out bees are a sun-up to sun-down kind of worker, with an increase in activity from 11-3. However, if it gets too hot for them, they will slow down and seek shade. Butterflies are a little more relaxed with their wake up and bedtime hours, but they are also most frequent from 11-3. They really don't like the cold, so they are a spring to summer bug. Moths seem to be a late spring to early fall creature, and are most active in the early hours of the night, from 1-5am. Fireflies are most active from dusk to midnight, and appear from early summer to early fall. There are so many different types of flies that its common for flies to be around all times of day from spring till fall. I need to remember to put weather checks in as well. Flying insects and rain are not friends.

Another important bit of information concerning butterflies and moths:
  • Butterflies rest with their wings closed, folded above their bodies.
  • Moths rest with their wings open, spread out on either side of their bodies.
This will help me in the construction of their houses. Particularly the shape of the entry.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bauhaus Furniture

Now I can't very well expect people to vote on a project that I haven't posted about, but it seems like you do any ways. I'd rather you all be informed voters, so here's a post about furniture from my absolute favorite designers and time period.
This originally was a group project between myself, QBuilderz, Leesester, and Fresh-Prince. We were working on products, houses, and cars from Bauhaus and Mid-century Modern design. I am very interested in the office furniture of the time. Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen.

I've got Breuer's bookcase done, and I had the Barcelona Daybed meshed, but it was extremely high-poly so I'll have to rework that.

ta539 at MTS has already done some of the pieces I'm interested in, but she doesn't always use the correct name, there is no catalog description, the recolors are all over the place, along with no slaving, and I'd be willing to bet most of her meshes are far too high-poly now (we didn't have poly guidelines back then). She seems to still be active at MTS, but hasn't posted anything since 2005.

College Costs

I haven't done any play testing of this yet, but I think I've got a starting point for the tuition cost. I'm thinking its going to be $2,500 a semester. That means going to college costs $20k. If I manage to get the scholarships to repeat on the beginning of Junior year, I'm going to up the cost to $5000 each instead. I'm also going to nuke the $20k handout upon graduation. That is the least realistic thing ever. I just graduated, where's my $20k? I had to move back in with my parents, and I think colleges grads should have to as well. This will also up the amount of apartments I use in my game because apartments are actually still within a college grad's budget. I wasn't planning on limiting student loans to only students, so they could take a few more out just to make sure they can land on their feet upon graduation. I am not trying to make college impossible or sucky for my sims, I just want them to know that it wasn't free, they had to work toward it, and to appreciate everything. Yes, little pixel dolls can learn that. :P

As I was going through the scholarships, I noticed that I don't think anyone has made any scholarships based on FT Hobby Interests yet, so those should definitely be included. I want to make college cost, but I do want it to be attainable.

I need to find a BHAV that gets called during the switch from semesters that I can insert all this tuition stuff into, but it should also be one that I'm not using to add in inventory items into. I want the tuition to work even with custom majors, and the inventory items will only be for the maxis ones.

Afterschool Activities

Because for some reason even without a post about it, Afterschool Activities is already winning my poll, I should prolly write about it already.

This project was the very first thing I wanted to make when I first got into modding. It was way over my head, and much much bigger than I could handle at the time, so I back-burnered it, and started learning everything I could. I can't tell you how the original concept was supposed to be played out (well I prolly can look up some notes, but that way died and it doesn't matter) so I'll explain where I'm at and what I've yet to do.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Smaller Driveway

As my first vote is for smaller driveways, I should prolly write up a post about it. I've never cared for the scale and proportion of the driveways and garages in TS2, and this project has been on my to do list since the beginning of 2011. I started with the driveway itself, thinking that a plain flat object should be easier than one with animation and joints, but with all those tiles and GUIDs, its a nightmare to figure out which ones are the ones I need to keep and which ones are the ones I need to get rid of. Plus when I was working on it the texture somehow disappeared. I'm willing to give it another go, but its complicated.

I want to make a 3 tile wide set (driveways, extension, and garage door), and maybe if that works out, a 4 tile wide one as well. I also need to figure out how to make a double garage door. It needs to be a single door that sits with two 3 tile wide driveways and the door needs to open when a car on either side needs to use the door. If that's not enough, I also want to make fence gates that work with driveways. The car gates need to work in four different opening actions. I want a single gate to swing all the way inside, right or left. Then I want one that opens in the middle. I also want one that lifts up, and one that sinks into the ground (like police blockades).

It's a very complicated project, without much reward for me. It is mostly just a bunch of headache coding and I don't know much about animating objects yet. We'll see.

College Money Matters

I was doing some more thinking about this today. I think Government Grants should work the same way that phoning for Scholarships does. The amount of money for the grants would be based on the sim's grades and some math to do with lot value and family value. Might take into consideration the number of sims living on the lot. It should also consider sims incomes. My college roommate got some grants and she was less than thrilled with how the money was allotted. I do want my sims to have college debt, but I don't need to do it in a stupid way.

I'm thinking the tuition bill needs to be placed directly into the sim's inventory when they start each new semester. They have until their final exams to pay their tuition bill. If the tuition bill object is still in their inventory when they head off to their final exam, they will be placed on academic probation for the next semester. College isn't free now! ;) I'm also considering making scholarships and grants re-applicable, or perhaps recurring for a little while. My college scholarship lasted for 12 quarters. My college tenure was actually much longer, so the last year or so I didn't have that anymore. Oh! My scholarship was dependent on community service hours. Maybe I can include some sort of community service stuff. Cash for work based on hobby skills and regular skills. Helping build a new community garden if you've got good gardening talent skills sounds like a good thing to me! Teaching kids robotics, not sure about some of the others, but I'll work on it. This project is starting to get exciting now!

The key for this though, is I have to find a realistic amount to make the semester tuition. If it's too much, no sims will be able to afford it, or ever get out from under their student loans, but if I make it too easy, then what was the point? Ooh, I do like game design. It was the one thing I really really liked when I was interning at Hasbro Games.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Further Bug Functionality

The obvious thing with the bees is, that they should produce honey. Its already been done by a few people, so I don't know how I want my take to be different on it. I think I just want it to end up in their inventory. Maybe it would be cool if I can add it to the Juicer and add some juices like Honey Lemon Tea. Right now the bees and the butterflies are kinda redundant, and the butterflies are better because they do shrubs as well. That's why I want to make the bees do something. Every bug should have its own reason to be needed on a lot, that isn't a duplicate of another. It might be okay to let the butterflies and moths double up. I'm still working on their role.

Thinking more about the flies, I think cloning the compost bin might be the best way to go with them. I want sims to be able to scoop up some maggots, and put them in their garden and then that should fertilize it. It would also be cool if sims would 'feed' the flies, by bringing them dirty plates. Feeding the flies would then leave the sim with a not smelly or fly-y plate that they can then go wash.

I've got a neat little idea for the fireflies as well. A lot of people (myself included) use captured firefies as mood lighting for their lots with the noBugDecay cheat. Why not just make them little bug lantern houses in the first place. They would only glow at night and not in winter; they'd sit on either the ground, tables, or fence posts. I like this idea because most of the other bugs are already taking care of most of the garden, and fireflies don't actually garden much from what I've read.

Now I just need a good way to differentiate the butterflies and moths and I'm in business!

College Collection

So, I'm not really sure how this project is going to play itself out. Having just graduated college myself, I'm really not impressed with how our sims do college. For starters, why the hell is it free? I'm up to my eyeballs in student loans and sims have zero debt and have cash coming out of their ears. Gotta fix that. Secondly, I've come away from college with a TON of stuff. Books, supplies, paper materials, toys and projects I've designed, the list could go on all day. Sims skate through college barely collecting anything. This was one of the reasons I added inventory items to my college major. But its still not enough. I had to rent a U-Haul trailer to dig me out of my apartment of 3 years. My sims should be equally saddled with crap and cheap furniture. The third main thing that bugs me is their dorm rooms. They are terrible. At all the schools I've been to, they have uniform dorm furniture and everyone decorates their rooms. Sims (aside from the stupid uni-townies) never spend any time in their room because they suck and there is nothing to do in there. Part of this problem is because all the rooms are single. College is about roommates! Ok, with all that in mind, here's my list:

This is a laundry list of stuff that is needed. Thankfully, I don't have to make it all. I don't know how I'm going to be presenting this yet.

Tuition: college needs to cost money, and perhaps a different amount based on where you go.
Student Loans: because tuition is just too expensive! Maybe through the phone or comp?
Gov't Grants: based on lot value, family income, and number of family members.
Scholarships: add in Hobby skills and Witchcrafting.
Ask Parents for Money: phone call interaction based on how much parents love their kid, and money in the bank, and how many times they've already called.

Inventory Items for all Majors: just like my major, I want junk added to all majors for almost all classes (some just don't make sense)

Futon: foldable bed, like the Murphy.
Oversized Bean Bag chair: with cuddle interactions.
Laptops and Printers: cuz we all need them in college now.
TVs: small flat screens or larger clunky CRTs
Minifridge with a Microwave on top: and foods that use them.
Matchy matchy bland dorm furniture: IKEA gave us a bunch of nice MALM crap to use.
Supplies: Textbooks, Notebooks, Calculator, Pens, Pencils. All which immediately loose all $ value.
Fans: Box and Rotating, cancels dorm noise.
Bulletin Boards: for pics of friends
Small Bookcases and Shelves: to hold any sentimental stuff from home.
Backpacks and Messenger Bags: just to clutter the rooms.
Stuffed Llama and Cow: University Spirit!
Storage: Clear tubs and plastic crates.

Roommate Door: cuz we really need one already.

I'll be adding links as I find these things. I'm thinking about maybe making it part of the phone call when you go to college. You have to pay a certain amount, and it tells you that the car will be there at 7am, so be packed and ready. Then I'll have a pop up notification listing all the great things your college-bound kid is likely to need.

Moving Day Mods

I'm surprised this project didn't come to me sooner. For years I've been packing and moving, between houses and apartments and hotel rooms and boarding houses for my school. On one of my 'final' moves I really really wanted to have my sims pack with me. They've moved a lot for their poor little sakes. I'm still playing my original save game from over 8 years ago. I had a late start with them because I started on a Mac, but then we safely transfered them to a new temp laptop, then a new bitchin one, and now they are at their (hopefully) final computer - my graduation present, a new gaming tower!

This project is coming along nicely. I have the first part completely done, the middle is in progress, and the harder 'if I could do anything' stuff still isn't any closer to becoming a reality. Here's what's going on:

For Sale Sign:
This is a mix between two 'borrowed' things (as usual). I very much like Inge's Stay Things Shrub. But as usual, I hate it when the object has absolutely nothing to do with the mod it's performing. So Instead, I looked at how it was working, and figured out a new way of making it only 'stick' things in your house that would actually be left when moving. Things like plumbing, lighting, and most of the kitchen. Then, I needed a cute little object to run this. Being lazy, I found something that is already nice. When I upload this set I will make sure to change the mesh and do the textures myself, but for now, this sign by KiaraRawks was perfect.

Moving Boxes:
Next up if we are going to move, we should pack first. I always hated the idea of putting everything into my Sim's inventory. It's got a backpack for it's icon, but sims don't wear backpacks, so it's probably just their pockets, like where the cell phone ring comes from. What logic tells me that I can put 50 things in their pockets? Ok, so I can't fix that issue yet, but how about the hella long time consuming job of putting everything individually into and out of their inventory? Ok, so my plan didn't really fix that either, instead of into the inventory, you have to put everything into a box and then into their inventory, so we are actually adding a step, but somehow it makes the story better. And you don't have to pack or unpack all your stuff the second you move in. We could store junk! And, I even made labels for them. :) The idea here is a box with 4 or so slots in it, and in Live Mode, things in the slots are not visible, and in Build and Buy, the box isn't. I might need to make some part of the box stay visible so you can see where you are placing things and such, but you could also do all that though the inventory hand tool. Who knows, I haven't gotten everything worked out yet. I do have a nice mesh and a sweet texture though! Echo is helping me with it.

Moving Truck:
The final part of this project (that will likely never actually happen or work) is a moving truck. I don't like the idea of sticking all these boxes into inventory, but would rather put them into a truck instead. I also want to be able to call up a moving company on the phone and have a truck show up at my house. Then I can put all these boxes inside, and the larger furniture, and then have my family drive off for their move out. Then enter the neighborhood screen and pick a new house. The cinematic for moving in would use the moving truck and either the taxi or the family car. The moving truck would then not leave until I unloaded all the stuff and paid the driver. I'd love that to be how this all works. No idea how much of that is possible. If you have any ideas, let me know!

Added Bug Apperance

I was thinking more about this last night in the shower (water is my conductive thinking juice - bathing or swimming). What if having these bug houses on your lot increased the chance of having those bugs spawn on your lot as well. We already have mods that will do that globally, so why not? joninmobile, also known as TheNinthWave, made a very nice little mod that does that globally, he even made a flavor I like, with butterflies being a 75% chance in Spring and Summer and 25% in Fall, and fireflies 25% in Spring, and 75% in Summer and Fall. Very nice.

I don't want to just limit this to butterflies and fireflies, I also want to try to make it for the bees and ladybugs (make them spawn anywhere on the lawn like the other two do) and the little basegame butterfly moth things (I'm totally going to retexture them so they do this set justice) and even the awful flies.

Speaking of the flies, I'm thinking maybe some sort of mix between the flying version and somehow connecting them to a garden plot. Maybe have an interaction of taking the maggots from the house and placing them on the garden plot. I also want to include a tiny percent chance of the flies getting super mad and swarming, maybe a 5% or 10% only for the summer sorta thing.

My two favorite parts of a project are the planning stage (when everything is possible) and then when I have everything meshed and textured and its in my game (sometimes even before its actually working yet). I do really like when everything is working and done, but because I don't play much, that's usually the last time I get much fun out of my own stuff. Oh well. Eventually I will play again, right?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stackable Chairs

This is one of those projects of mine that has been on the books for far too long. It's so old, I can't even find the original conversations about it between Echo and me. My family are packrats. We have boxes upon boxes of stuff still packed from the last couple of times we moved, and I really hate this one object per tile thing. (More about boxes in Moving Day Mods) What if you are having a party and you need a bunch of chairs? Forget this magical Buy Mode Catalog in the sky, where do you store all these chairs? Most normal people can either fold or stack their chairs, why can't we?

I went through the entire catalog looking at every chair and table and piece of furniture to see if it could realistically (in respect to physics) stack on top of itself or fold up. With the Murphy Beds in AL, the last part became possible but wasn't originally in the scope of the project. With a little help from my fave shiftable OMSPs, I was able to see what would work and what wouldn't. I think another part of the reason this project came up was because my drawing teacher at the time had assigned us to draw stackable chairs. It is much harder than you think it is!

I'll get you pictures as soon as I get something working. Echo made me a template a long time ago and I have been trying to duplicate it and I just can't get anything to work for me.

Beehives and Butterfly Houses

This project is about making lots of little insect houses. One of the biggest things that 'bugs' me is that there isn't enough movement in our sims' houses. Looking around at my own house I have to admit I'm pretty much the only thing doing any moving, but there are always bugs. Maxis gave us lots of pretty little icky bugs to play with. We have bees and flies and cockroaches and even some relatively unused (and badly textured) butterflies to play with. When Seasons rolled around we got better butterflies, fireflies, ladybugs, and those little icky white nits. I really love the ladybug loft because it adds cute little flying bugs, and I love the fireflies and butterflies. For this project, I'm going to make houses for all of them (except a Roach Motel, this is about the flying bugs). Now, while cute little flying bugs everywhere is adorable, it's not actually useful. I don't make stuff without a purpose (generally). I liked the idea of TwoJeff's Perfect Plants mod, but I don't like how it feels like cheating. By giving some of the garden care over to these little bugs, it feels less like cheating, cuz I had to buy them, and not every family will have a perfect garden. The other thing I don't like, and I feel like I might be in the minority here, is that when the flowers are properly trimmed and 'prefect', they don't look as pretty or happy. I might consider letting flowers keep their unkempt state for the summer if they have bees tending them or some such. I'll just try to make sure that it doesn't effect the gardener score or environment score or anything. And I won't let them go past that state of being wilty and dying. Though, bugs really have nothing to do with whether they are getting enough water. Oh! But it rains in the game. So maybe I'll go with that. Having bees or butterflies will disable the need to trim them, and in the summer the plants can let loose a bit. Bees and butterflies will do the job of the gardeners for trimming, and keep flowers from dying all together. I hate that the most. I leave my pretty garden for a while and forget to call a gardener and before you know it, everything is dead and I have to rebuy everything. Hate that.

Here's what's planned:

BugVisual Effect EPHabitatBehavior
LadybugsSSNLoftkeeps SSN nits away
BeesBGBeehivekeeps flowers pretty, maybe summer growth
ButterfliesSSNMesh Housekeeps flowers and shrubs nice (caterpillars eat the shrub overgrowth)
Butterflies (look better as Moths and at nighttime)BGMesh Housekeep shrubs nice and weeds from spreading (again with the caterpillars)
FliesBGMaggot Farmkeep soil fertilized
FirefliesSSNGlow Lanternoutside porch lamps

If anyone has any ideas on how you can help me pull apart TwoJeff's mods, that's really all that's holding me up at the moment. See this thread please!