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The Sims 3 Community Spotlight Interview: Pyronium3

A new community spotlight interview has appeared at the official Sims 3 site covering the work of the machinima artist Pyronium3!

What advice can you offer to an aspiring machinima artist?
First of all you need to decide for yourself what your ambitions are. Do you want to do it just for fun? Do you want to channel ideas and emotions? Do you want to be the best? Whatever it is, it’s very important you are certain. If you’re not, you’re not focused, and when you’re not focused you easily give up.

Then it comes to learning the tech behind it all. You’re working with computers here so it’s going to be very technical no matter what.

  • You need to know how the camera works, this applies to handling it as well as adjusting the ini files to alter its behavior.
  • You also need to know how to get custom content in your game (think of animation hacks, beautification items, etc).
  • You need to know the game. It’s very important you know the animations. This will save you a lot of time when you’re trying to find one that suits the emotion you’re trying to convey.
  • You need to know filming techniques. The way something is directed can make or break it. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, or how pretty the scenes are.. If it’s not filmed right, it isn’t right.
  • You need to know how to edit footage.

This might seem daunting at first, and that’s probably because it is. If you want to be good at this, you need to invest a lot of time in it. But as with everything: as long as you have enough determination you can get there.

My main advice would be to watch a lot of machinima. Especially those that you personally like. Study the pieces, try to understand how the director got the shots that he did. What animations he used, when he used them, how that affected the piece.

Before that though, just make some stuff for fun. Explore the playfield, get a feel for it. If you don’t understand the basics there’s no point in studying machinima, since you wouldn’t have anything to reference it to. Most of all: Have fun! It’s not a job, it shouldn’t feel like one!

catch the full interview here

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ComputerBild.de – Interview with producer Grant Rodiek on The Sims 3 Ambitions

SimTimes found a interview published on the German site Computerbild.de with producer Grant Rodiek sharing some more details on The Sims 3 Ambitions.  Below is a roughly translated snippet:

(CBS): which creative job is in the world of the Sims most most prestigious?

Grant Rodiek: This lies solely with the player. With The Sims 3 Ambitions we want to offer a wide range of careers and choices related to players that have each strongly on the gameplay impact. Whether architect, sculptor, tattoo artist or stylist – these professions can bring a great reputation with them. Sims from the neighbourhood engage architect sims with a variety of jobs as draft of a men cave or a reading corner and the kitchen or the complete renovation of the house.  The new sculpture skill provides many creative ways can earn a lovely sum of Simoleons players. Others adorn Sims, which have a tattoo chair or afford a visit to the local salon for a small fee. The headquarters for these fashionable ambitious Sims ‘ first local Salon. If they get in the career they style everywhere a customers.

View the whole translated article here

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WolfFire Blog – Will Wright at Berkley

Will Wright has been on a traveling frenzy, attending a number of speaking engagements and presentations.  The other day he appeared in Berkley to speak to a handful of people about his career and to answer questions.  One guy – John – wrote about his time spent at the presentation:

Contrary to the mainstream industry at the time, Wright decided to build SimCity for Mac. He largely attributes SimCity’s appearance in Time Magazine (the magazine’s first game review) to the fact that the editor was a Mac user, and SimCity was one of very few Mac games.

Wright only sold 20,000 Commodore 64 copies of SimCity (in a market of 17 million C64’s), but the console version in Japan alone (a smaller market) sold a million copies. Wright attributes this to the fact that it was not really possible to pirate the physical console cartridges, while casual piracy was rampant on the C64.

continue on reading

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Ocean Quigley’s project blog – lighting buildings in SimCity 4

InfiniteSims found a new entry over at Ocean Quigley’s Project Blog (former EA worker) sharing insight on how they came up with their lighting technique for the buildings during the night.  Very interesting!

SimCity 4 was really a giant compositing engine.

Visually, the city was a collection of sprites all layered and blended on top of each other. As the view panned around, a strip of new stuff was exposed and added to the existing image.

It was kind of like an elaborate, automatic matte painting. Like a matte painting, we used 3D geometry to help with sorting and overlaps, so that realtime elements (like cars and people) could be composited in.

So the natural way to represent night was by layering additional sprites on top of the existing scene. Here was my design proposal for night lighting, one that we wound up more-or-less implementing.

Let’s say that we start out with a building like this, and want to make a nighttime version of it

First, we automatically make a mask for the the windows by assigning them all a particular material so that they’ll render into a separate buffer. We did that was in our pipeline, using 3DStudio Max.

Then we get an artist to light the building, by placing point and spot-lights in the appropriate places. Charlie Aquilina lit most of the buildings we shipped with.

Now the building had to be rendered twice in our pipeline, once with normal daylight lighting, and once to capture the artist-placed lighting.

Then when night comes in the game view, we tint the whole scene blue. We could even animate transitions, if performance allows.

And to show that the building is inhabited (and that the power is turned on) we just add the window lights and the hand placed lighting over the building sprite.

I tried to break the windows into sections, so that they could be turned off and on in groups (showing how full a building was), but we didn’t have enough memory (or disk space!) for the additional window masks. Those big sprites wound up taking a lot of disk space.

Other elements, like streetlights and headlights were nothing but additive textures on quads, placed appropriately. Give how simple the system was, night came out quite nicely.

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MySims Sky Heroes to hit PS3 and Xbox 360?

When you see a MySims game, you instantly think Nintendo.  Many deem it as a kiddie game (which essentially, it is aimed at the younger audience) hence why it is very strange to spot a listing for the next game in the series – MySims Sky Heroes – for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  SimFans found out that ABC Software has both listings (Xbox 360, PS3) added to their site.  It also lists an EAN code (similar to the barcode in the US) which helps ground it to be true.  I’m remaining skeptical though… I just can’t see the game working on a system other than Nintendo.  But hey, it’s possible!

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Kotaku – Life As A God Of Sims

It’s religion-gaming week over at Kotaku, and the various Sim games are a hot topic.  They touched base briefly on SimCity and The Sims in their article “The God I’ve Been” the other day, and now today they featured a whole story titled “Life as a God of Sims“.

They live in a house of my design, they are made by me, I have literally crafted everything about their lives.

But an interesting situation arose recently: I had a sim who asked his friend to dump his girlfriend for him, which he did. Said friend then asked my sim to move in!

Since his house sucked, I said yes. And the moving screen pops up and it has the lady the other sim was in a relationship with. That was unexpected- they lived together.

And we get to the lot, and it’s a lot I built, two tiny homes on one lot like a duplex. So I lock the doors so that she still lives on the lot, but in the ugly half meant for a family, and we live in the pretty half meant for a bachelor. I leave her alone and DO NOT control her, at all. She’s a neighbor on the same lot.

I put the mouse over her icon in the new guy’s relationship thing and it says “ex wife”. wooooooooops I didnt know they were married.

Then I see her taking out the trash and she’s walking funny. She’s in her third trimester.

This is my world. I made the houses. I made half the sims, I made the neighborhoods. But I didn’t control what went on inside it, and this is the first time I’ve truly seen how amazing it is to be in control of everything, yet let it go on as it pleases.

She had the baby and I named it bastardo.

continue on

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Sims 4 in production and a note to those in the community…

:!: Please note: This is a post by previous site owner, Jud Hudson.

Sigh…I didn’t want to share this bit of information I found last night on Twitter publicly because of two reasons:  the first is to obviously respect the employee of EA for sharing the bit of information that…well more than likely did not want publicized throughout the community.  Second, while yes, the below tweet does seem bland, it’s still possible that it could cost the said employee his job depending on how strict the NDA is.

I shared it on twitter only because for the most part, many webmasters use it as a tool to communicate and I wanted to give them a heads up letting them know progress is underway on The Sims 4.  I didn’t provide a link to the tweeter because I feared this would happen…

Anyhow, seeing as it has now spreaded, I’d figure I’d post it.  I’m still being respectful for I left out the EA employee’s icon, username and twittername to prevent it from being tracked, but it’s still pretty easy to find if EA wanted to get the original source.  At times like these, posting information like the above should be handle with care.  It’s much more serious than say, a retail store slips out a listing or perhaps it showing up on somebody’s resume…  In most cases, it’s always wise to say “A little birdie from EA said” to protect that individual.

Anyways, the tweet below.  For the most part, it is a given as the same process took place for The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 (work begin on the games right after the base game of each was launched).