Sunday, August 22, 2010

Must be talking to an angel

It is not often in life someone comes along unprovoked, and says: You look like you could use a helping hand.

Through all of the hoopla I seem to find myself amongst at the moment, Heidi, at Exotic Elements, has graciously offered her assistance on the next, and possibly the most important, step of object creation: shadow baking. We're not talking about just a little guidance. We're talking a 50+ page fully illustrated tutorial written especially for me; step by step on how to take an object (in this case the CB2 Sofa) from Milkshape, organize it properly in UVMapper and finally taking it to Blender to bake some shadows. Turns out a lightbulb isn't necessary at all as easy has nothing to do with it. It's a complex multistage process that I would never have been able to figure out on my own. The goal is not to overlap and condense to save space, but to lay every piece out, in scale, so it can be properly shadowed. How to build a better jigsaw puzzle in 90 easy steps. Further, she attentively answered each email I wrote in a panic when something (in many cases, unrelated to the tutorial) went wrong or confused the bejeezus out of me. Fie on your Python . . . fie . . . on . . . you.

Easy Bake Sofa
I'll slowly redesign all of my furniture - the ones I designed from scratch - to be properly baked. In the meantime, you should haul ass to Exotic Elements for her fine creations. If you like my rugs, you'll find the furnishings and accessories fit to sit atop them. It's hand in glove.

CB2 opened here in Atlanta. Where was I? Having a panic attack while my life fell apart around me. Still looking for a roommate - I am quiet and housebroken - the only difference between me and a cat is my mortgage. Won't be buying that whatever for however much anytime soon because I am saving money. Such vulgar words. Not bitter.

I am pulling together another rug set while I fiddle in the background on a new project - it's a small one and I don't want to say what it is as I could fall onto my face - it could happen - I mean, a tree fell in my yard starting an ugly domino effect of misery.

Okay - just a lil bitter.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moving on . . . on many levels.

Going back to rugs for the next release - series two of the large Antique rugs. I need to work longer with UVMapper to explore how to properly shade the multipliers. Although most were kind in their comments on the past two releases, the download numbers are relatively low for the first week. I have toyed with the idea of releasing some items on TSR but there seems to be two schools in the community - those who like TSR and think every piece of crap item released is worthy of downloading no matter how stupid and thoughtless what consideration went into its creation. Then there are those who feel pay sites must die and anything related to them is evil. Does it really come down to being cult status or a sellout? Truth be told I am grey on this matter. I think some things are amazing at TSR, much like the entire internet - you have to start somewhere and not every thing one makes can be a massive hit. It's just that every piece of furniture I have put seems to be only of mild interest. Site X however with their hello kittie everything set seems to be the real hit. Ahem. That's . . . um, nice.

Looking for a roommate should anyone be moving to Atlanta or know someone in Atlanta or for some reason if you are in Atlanta and you actually are reading this . . . seems the tree killed more than my garden.

Oh - if you'd like to test something mentioned on this site before it is released to the public I am looking for testers. The bed fiasco was just an embarrassment. I test stuff as much as I can in my own game before it is released, but sometimes games act differently. Needless to say you would be getting the BETA version if not the final. Certainly, you'd be getting it earlier than the other three people that are downloading stuff at b5Studio. Let me know. I am probably moving my release day to Wednesday. Gives me the weekend to pull together what I need and a few days to rest before it goes live. The one Wednesday release I did was quite popular - I think people are out on the weekends and tend to not see the new stuff on MS3B.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Current projects

VeronaRelapse had suggested getting UVMapper pro - I had considered it a great deal, but passed when the tree fell. The suggestion however made me really really want to try to improve the texture on the pole lamp, so I threw caution to the wind, pushed those furlough days out of my mind and purchased the pro version. What a difference. At first I thought I would cry as it was considerably more difficult to get used to but it was only a matter of time before it started to make sense. There is an interactive mapper that you can twirl and twist your shapes to nearly any configuration which is a great assistance for things like the cone to the lamp.

With all the ease of mapping (don't let that statement fool you - it's crazy hard and I won't even get into shading the multipliers properly probably for a long time) I decided to work on some CB2 items that I have been drooling over in their catalogue. Given the limitations on game item sizes, they had to be in scale with what is already in the game as I am absolutely clueless as to how to alter things like the diameter of a diner table and have it actually work (I have a table from NANU that is a 60s mod Pantone style table with the laurel base that my sims refuse to eat at - it is a larger circle and I can only imagine that it's the size and not their lacking taste).

Below are a few CB2 items (need to test in game) and a chair I have wanted to translate for the game for a year now - it's a chair I own and I adore and finally I can have it in the game. Hoo-fucking-rah.

My all time favorite chair (a total score)
The real chair (can you see the kilim in the background? I really collect them).

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Object manipulation

Redesigned the pole lamp again. I was disappointed with the cone portion in that I could not get the interior of the cone to be a different color and also the pole itself was a bit of a guess where the ends met the middle portion so I cut it apart to make it easier for recoloring.
I still have one aspect that I want to tinker with - it's just a bit of a drag the way that the pattern stretches in one area. This is still the best way I have found to make a cone in UVMapper however it blurs in one area on the cone and that is where in UVMapper it is depicted as turning away from view. I don't know how to make that better, but I want to give it a shot regardless.
The coffee table I think turned out well - looks pretty much identical to the real thing. One thing I still need to tinker with is the way the pattern repeats on the surface. Other than that, I am very pleased.

{edit} That pattern for the while is going to have to remain blurred in the one spot. UVMapper allows you to tweak the faces a couple of different way but you cannot zoom in with the free version so it is nearly impossible to grab an area to stretch it out to allow for more area to be covered - ergo, the pattern appears blurred in those areas that are condensed in the 'turn' of the surface. RATs.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tree of life? Giving Tree? The tree that taketh away?

I had hoped to post a photo gallery of the tree and all the fun we had in its removal, but honestly, I have been struggling a bit with keeping my spirits up. This could have been worse, but it was still bad enough and I am left to argue with the insurance company over what is exactly being covered and to what degree. 

The roof they are saying is minimal damage but the company they sent to repair it is saying they need to do a great deal more to fix it and now they are arguing the matter. The gutters are considerably more than the insurance company allotted, the fence is longer, the shed is more and the driveway sank - yup. The tree being stored in the driveway caused the driveway to sink where it meets the street. They say that is the tree company's fault comparing it to if a plumber damaged moulding in the house while they were there to make a repair, they would be responsible for the damage. I say this is more like the insurance company saying the wall the plumber broke into to get at the pipe that burst is responsible for breaking the wall. No matter where the 120 foot tree was placed in however many small pieces, it was bound to do some damage. 

Did I mention it was $15,000 to remove the tree? Cough.

I have been working on a few things from my own home regarding the sims. The coffee table and pole lamp are being tested now. I had to remake the pole lamp multiple times as it was eluding me how to make the patterns appear on the inside of the cone shade. Thankfully, Riccinumbers at TSR was kind enough to offer some guidance in how to work with Milkshape. I didn't know I would need to burn the program with a cigarette and call it a dirty whore, but clearly, it worked. Actually, (warning: tech speak) the simple trick was duplicating the cone, scaling it down 1% and then reversing the order of the vertexes. I was surprised how easy it was. I think the key thing she said was the amount of segments in the cylinder. It caused me to think about the poly count and approach the whole design a bit more low-fi. Anyway - it is looking good in the game - I need to play with the patterns a little bit longer - hopefully by next weekend I will be releasing a "living with b5studio" set. 
Yup, that's my living room/dining room as good as I can get it with the stuff currently available for sims. What better inspiration than ones own home? Yes, I am aware the living room photo (real life) has no pole lamp - I need a more updated photo. Can I blame this on the tree falling? No? Pfft.

I also have a new rug set completed. Another special edition. Have I mentioned what constitutes a special edition? It's a real life rug set that I am halfway convinced the source of said rugs will come knocking at my door and demand that I remove their rugs from my blog. This new set would be one of those special editions . . . it's to celebrate a store coming to Atlanta. One that I have only shopped at via the internet. Clearly, the shopping gods are favoring me. I will probably need to sacrifice something . . . perhaps my garden will count. Not bitter.

I might do an art series from my own home . . . 
still weighing that . . . .