With the alpha (non-exporting) version of blueprint coming up this weekend, there still seems to be some confusion over what blueprint does so I thought I would post this here to let everyone in on the big secret (many thanks to GetCool for posting this on the old forum, I just embellished it Bil style)
To make a new object, you first need a 3D mesh. A mesh is a group of vertices and faces contained in a 3D file, making a three-dimensional shape. The vertices define the geometry that makes up the mesh, the faces tell you how the vertices connect together. Sort of like a 3D connect-the-dots. You create a mesh from scratch with a 3D modeling program, or take one that someone else made AND gave you permission to use and import it into blueprint. Eventually, you will be able to use nearly any 3D program to make your meshes, but upon its initial release, blueprint will only be able to import the Wavefront OBJ and Autodesk 3DS (3D Studio MAX) formats. New formats will be added at time goes on but with the blueprint SDK, third party authors can create importers for any format.
So you take your 3D file you made or downloaded or whatever, and load it up in blueprint. If your 3D file has any extra things in it (like lights, cameras, bones, etc.), blueprint ignores them, only loading the mesh (vertices, faces, groups, textures, etc.). Then you can edit the values and attributes, type a description, enter a price, etc., and resize the mesh to make it the size you want for in-game. Now here`s where the magic happens. When you are done editing your object, you select the export option, and blueprint AUTOMATICALLY takes bitmap images of the object from all four angles and all three zoom levels (twelve images in all), giftwraps them into an IFF file, and smacks it into The Sims. And there you have your new object!
Note that you cannot actually export like this until the full version of blueprint is released. With the alpha version, you can load meshes, mess with the attributes, etc., but you cannot export. The good news is, you will be able to SAVE your work. This will allow you to set up your new objects now, save them, and when the full blueprint is released, load them with that version and export them immediately.
So no more screwing around with PhotoShop and palettes and Transmogrifier, oh my! Your work is cut out for you! Don’t worry about alpha channels and zbuffers. Since blueprint is a 3D program, it can figure out how deep or wide your chair is and create these automagically. It’s very slick. As for advanced features like adding new commands to objects or changing the animation orders, these are planned for future releases (see the Edith discussion in my latest diary entry about where things are headed).