Back again. Had a great weekend. Many, many thanks to everyone who discovered online greeting cards. My email has never been the same. As you can see, a slight facelift to the site. Just wanted to be more ‘blue’ around here. Some things are missing but it’s 2AM and I have to get up at 6. Hey look! The first signs of senility!

Hi guys! No news this weekend. Taking it easy and watching my odometre roll over yet again (35 and still staying up until 2 each day!). Catcha Monday with news and previews.

A lot of concerns keep coming up with the object exchange idea. One thing that is prevelant is that sites like SimFreaks, Seven Deadly Sims and other places that have custom objects would not be made obsolete with an object exchange place. The idea behind the object exchange is simple. Suppose you go out and buy The Sims and decide it would be cool to make a new object or two. So after a few days/weeks/months your creation is ready to unveil to the world. Trouble is you’re not sure where to put it? You certainly don’t want to go to the trouble of setting up a website for your one or two objects and posting to newsgroups is out. So how do you get your object out to the world? Sure, there are a few sites that do host peoples objects. This would just be another source. The idea is that you would be able to upload your creation straight from a piece of software like blueprint, even upload works in progress as your creation evolves. So it’s not meant to take away from the custom object places or the other sites that do host objects, just a way to supplement them. That’s all!

Application vs Web. That is the question. Last week I threw out the concept of an online object exchange versus a Napster like, distributed application exchange program (based on some suggestions from people in the forum). The results have been very close in the polls and lately the Napster like solution is inching ahead in popularity. While this is not to say I’m heading off to write such a program and the poll will continue to see if public opinion sways (being so close by the time I finish writing this it could be the other way around) I won’t discard either idea right now.

I am investigating both courses of action and learning a lot about how distributed file sharing works. With an application solution, there are two approaches. First there’s Napster. Basically I run off and setup a server that your client connects to and you get information from the server about who’s out there and what do they have to offer (as far as Simstuff goes). This is fine until the server comes crashing down or what little bandwidth there is available gets choked up. The other approach was a Napster alternative called Gnutella (created by the guys who made Winamp) that proposes that everyone is a client and a server. You basically have knowledge of other client/servers (a buddy list if you will) and they know a few friends and so on. If I was to search for an object with “Giger” in the description, I could ask my neighbors if they had such a beast and barring that they would ask their neighbors and the cycle would continue until hits came back to me. In either case, you would then connect from machine to machine to download the goodies directly.

Either way, there are always issues and some people have brought up concerns about not using it even it were available because you’re basically sharing part of your machine with others and some people are uncomfortable with this concept (myself included). I’m continuing the investigation and looking at web based solutions making some headway on that so we’ll have an answer shortly on what happens there.

Juggle, juggle, juggle. It seems some people have expressed concern over the progress of blueprint since the recent announcement of SSB, the release of Simplorer and a few other things. Rest assured as much time as possible is being devoted to blueprint itself. I thought I would explain a few things here that might help you understand the way my brain works (well, as best as possible since I can’t keep up with myself sometimes). Obviously not 100% of my time is spent on blueprint. Besides RealLife 1.0 that takes up most of day, I still have to squeeze re-writing a book before January, keeping the library that accompanies that book up to date and maintained, manage a few other projects (non-Sims) that I’m committed to, read and answer 400-800 emails a day, keep on top of the new trends, scan a half-dozen newsgroups a hunt down some dinner once in awhile. Then I get to Sim programming. Hey, I’m not complaining and I like the fast paced life that has poured in around me. How does this relate to the fact that you’re seeing progress (and release) of products other than blueprint? Well, blueprint is a complex beast. Converting a 3D file to a valid, working object isn’t a walk in the park. As well, I want to provide a facility to preview a Sim in blueprint so you can get the size of objects correct (after all, you don’t want your Sim to be walking through tables right?). Ahhh. The light bulb comes on. So building SSB is not just a cute program. It gets me the knowledge needed to import Sims and display them correctly for blueprint. One program feeds another. As well, I can only focus on one project for so long and after an hour or two I just get frustrated with certain things in blueprint and move onto something else. Perhaps this isn’t the way you work but that’s what I do. So if some of you think I come home from work, sit down at the keyboard and pound away on blueprint and nothing but until the wee hours, you’re mistaken. There’s much more to it behind the scenes. Hope that sheds some light on things.

Of course if Transmogrifier pops in 3D support or Maxis comes out with another tool, this is all moot 🙂

Hey kids. Well, work progresses on all fronts. Thought I’d give you a fairly neat looking sneak preview of The Sims Scene builder program. I haven’t got Sim characters importing right now but this is the program as it is right now. The scene here uses a couple of models I had lying around from Half-Life (a scientist and a zombie with a desert backdrop). Basically gives you the idea that you can move the camera around anywhere you want and do some cool angles. With The Sim characters they’ll be an import wizard that steps you through picking the character you want to import. This is necessary because The Sims uses multiple CMX, SKN, CFP, and BMP files to make up a Sim so it’s not just a matter of loading one file. I should have the Wizard done in a few days and have some shots of Sims bouncing around a scene. Seeya then! (note: the image is full size [1024×768] but I thought it did it justice. My apologies to the 28.8k modem users out there). Also for the sharp eyed people, this program is based on one called Quake Scene Builder that is no longer being worked on. The original author gave me permission to use the idea for The Sims.

Time for a new poll. There was a suggestion on the message boards about a Napster like program to exchange objects with other users. For those that don’t know Napster, it’s an application that allows you to trade MP3 files with others using a direct connection between your machine and the other user (though a server is used to get the information to you about who’s got what). The idea of a Napster like program for The Sims is interesting. Being Sim based, it would know all the objects/walls/floors/skins you have to offer by scanning your Sims directory and making that available for anyone to download. If say you were looking for a floor with a gothic theme you could do a search through everyone’s collection for such a beast. Of course you would have to be running the application to allow others to benefit but it means there would immediately be hundreds of users who could swap objects online at any given moment. The alternate is to create a web-based exchange very much like the one on the Maxis site for houses and families but this would be for objects (and possibly walls and floors). The advantage to the web based one is that you could have a preview of the object right there (although this could be done with a program where it fetches the image preview on the fly but that could be expensive as far as bandwidth goes). So what do you think? Web based or application based? You decide. Voting to the right starts now.

As always, full of ideas and never enough time to implement them all. I’m looking for someone who can help out with some cgi or perl scripting. The idea is to create an online object exchange, very much like the Sims exchange, but for objects instead of houses. Personally I think The Sims should be doing this but hey, I’m always up for a new challenge. If you have some experience with something similar to this, can offer some advice/time or know where I can get ahold of some skeleton scripts to start things rolling please email me please and thanks.

Hey guys. Thanks for the chat. It was wonderful and it was great to see some familiar (and not so familiar faces). Things went so well that I’ll have another one in the near future. I’ll give everyone a few days advance notice though and try to time it so our friends in Germany are not left out.

The big news released during the chat (as some of you might know from The Sims Resource site) is the addition of a new program to the growing collection here. It’s called The Sims Scene Builder and will allow you to import Sim characters into a scene you design, pose them, add props and lighting, move the virtual camera around to any angle or any zoom and take pictures. I know what some of you are groaning about. Stop making these stupid utilities and finish blueprint! Work on blueprint continues and will be delivered. This is just another fun program that I do when I’m not working on blueprint (after all, I can’t start at blue code all night long). What’s the point of the program? Mainly it’s bee a tool for you webmasters to get rid of those stuffy, statuesque Sims on your sites and be able to create some pretty interesting images. You’ll also be able to step through any animation available in The Sims so if you let your imagination go wild the possibilities are pretty much endless. Sure, this doesn’t enhance the game directly but I think it should be fun. It should be out in a few weeks (give or take, I’m never really good with dates) and I’ll have some screenshots up shortly with more info.