Long time no talk. Well, work goes on with blueprint. Don’t worry. I haven’t given up. Just resting in the shadows until I get my full hit points back then I’ll be returning with some new goodies. Seeya!
Hi guys. Well my daily posts have turned into weekly ones for awhile. Sorry, just swamped with a few million other things and then there’s 800+ emails a day (seriously) that I have to wade through. In any case, I’m still here and plodding along slowly but surely. Still working on the next release but nothing really new there so why bother to post. All is well. Move along citizen.
One thing that has grabbed my attention is the concept of an object wizard that someone suggested. At first I wasn’t sure what the point was (perhaps the way it was presented didn’t look that appealing) however on further thinking about it it might work. This is partially what I had in mind with the blueprint SDK. For example, someone could create stairs via a plug-in. The plug-in would ask how many stairs, the base object, the default texture, handrails, materials, etc. and poof, a staircase is born. For a table someone could input the shape (round, square, diamond, etc.), how many people to seat for, the base object, etc. and poof, a table. Might work and like I said, that was one of the ideas with the plug-in concept. Now that I’m in the throes of restructuring things to make it both easy to use and feature rich (not an easy task mind you) this might fit into the plans. I’ll let you know how it goes and thanks to the original poster for the idea (don’t remember your name).
Seeya next week (no posts for this weekend).
Something that continues to happen in the Sims community is people poking around inside the game files. One of the main problems I see from this is nobody seems to put any disclaimers up with their findings. An example site I found for example talked about editing the neighborhood file. Once you touch this file, it’s good-bye to future patches from Maxis. This also happens with some other system files (but not the individual object files).
However one of the main problems with hacking IFF files is that not a lot is known about some of the areas in them. So peoples documentation will have lots of “Unknown” sections in them. Editing files without knowing what’s in them could put your system at extreme risk (read: complete re-install of your game and data files). Another problem is the fact that not everything is always in the same place. The resource areas in IFF files can move around from time to time and are located in different offsets based on the file types (objects vs fences vs houses etc.) so taking this information as gospel is just going to get you into trouble. True, some people run with hacked neighborhoods and experience no problems but when someone does have a problem just realize that you’re not going to get any help from Maxis on the subject.
I’m not condoning people from putting up IFF hacking sites, but I would ask them to post some warnings and disclaimers about the information they’re spreading and what effects it might have on your system (e.g. editing this file will end your support from Maxis from future upgrades). I don’t know how many times I get email that start “I was hex editing my sims files and…”
The second part of this newspost concerns old sites that still offer up blueprint files from last year (the version before my hard drive crashed). I would ask the people running these sites to take them down. The files created with that version of blueprint (even if you can find it on the net) are not and will never be compatible with the current or any future version. I’ve simply lost the source code to that version (and their files) and I’m not going to try to figure out the file formats for compatibility sake. Sorry but that’s the effect of my dumbass move last year.
Ahh, the start of yet another weekend. Have a great one. I’ll be huddled in the dark corners of the theater watching Angelina Jolie bouncing across the silver screen…
Well here we go. I talked to Maxis and things are moving forward on the book and Edith. Everything looks good and I’ll be submitting my outline to them early next week so I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m continuing to pump out version 2 stuff and will have a few new screenshots shortly for that. In the meantime, keep posting in the forums and keep the ideas and suggestions flowing. BTW, please do not email me about general Sims support. I’m not tech support but for some reason I’ve been getting a slew of email recently with people asking me how to delete items, what the money cheat was and why their sound doesn’t work. Sorry, but I barely have enough time to keep up with support on my programs let alone Maxis’.
On the lighter side of things, I had to complete a census today (1 month late) which proceeded to ask me 125 questions about life, the universe and everything (including 10 questions asking me over and over again if I was a native indian, have ever been a native indian or would think about being one given the opportunity). Personally I wouldn’t be bothered to fill this stupid thing out (hence that’s why it’s a month late) but apparently they’ll toss me in jail if I dont. Nice country eh? What a whacked out world we live in.
Middle of the week. Just a short post. I’m just awaiting some new confirmation from Maxis on the Sims book (remember that project??) and what’s going on with the release of Edith (the Sims programming tool) so I’ll let you know as soon as I get word on that. The book is a go as previously stated and we’re just working out details now. I’ll be posting an outline once these last few details are resolved. Seeya!
Got some interesting responses to the “what’s wrong with blueprint” post. Strange that people are only speaking up now after I ask and not on their own accord. Oh well. Feedback is feedback. From the issues brought up I see that this will help make the next version that much better so I thank everyone for their input (and keep it coming, I may not respond to everyone but I’ll certainly read them!).
Here’s a breakdown of the major concerns/questions:
Yes, this is a problem with any software where I don’t have a dedicated team of internet monkeys banging away at it in testing. In all honesty, I thought it was more stable than people say because I don’t seem to have it crash when I’m testing and building things with it. Of course that’s a little biased, since I know how it works and just go through the motions in the right order. So part of this education and knowledge and the other is compatibility with systems (ATI cards rearing their ugly head again here). In any case, we’ll try to make bp2.0 as stable as possible and it certainly will be less crash-prone than it’s predecessor.
Objects created with blueprint not as good as ones made with PhotoShop/3D Studio
Well first off, you didn’t pay $1000+ for blueprint. Okay, lame excuse I know and I shouldn’t hide behind the commercial aspect of things but in all reality, I’m just one guy with a little time on his hands. Adobe and Kinetix (or whoever owns 3DS now) have dozens if not hundreds of people working on the system full time. So I really wish people would stop making this comparision because it’s like apples and concrete. In any case, I continue to try to enhance the look of the objects made with blueprint and with external hooks into 3rd party renderers like POV-Ray and RenderMan on the way, it may get there yet. If you really don’t like the quality of the blueprint output then you’re welcome to use 3D Studio, Truespace or any 3D program that can give you that quality and just use blueprint as a buffer. A little more onus on your part but it works.
More advanced features in 3D editing needed to make objects look better
These are underway but one of the opposed things that people say is that blueprint is too complicated. So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. How do you program an application that is simple to use yet offers powerful 3D tools like open splines, bezier curves, nurbs surfaces and all that good stuff? Hey, if you have the answer I’m all for it and will gladly change the shape of the program. It’s difficult to maintain that balance but I think I did a pretty good job. Your mileage may vary.
More tutorials (or how do I use this stupid thing)
Absolutely and I’m to blame for this. The various people I’ve had offer to write tutorials in the past just didn’t deliver. I have a new group that is willing and ready to go and I’m just organizing that effort now so we should be there soon little grasshoppers.
Textures don’t look good and ones from the blueprint site don’t work
A big oops on my part. The original texturing that went into the alpha release and the end of last year (or maybe it was early this year) was completely redone and well, I just didn’t have time to take into consideration everything. This is absolutely fixed in the new release and you can really do some nice things with textures and materials. This will also offset the “blueprint objects look like shit” comments from above (but not solve the problem completely).
Selecting a base object doesn’t show up in the program
And it never will. This is a common misunderstanding with blueprint that no matter how many times or ways I explain (or others explain) people just don’t get it. The “objects” in the Sim files now are just 2D bitmaps, images. There is no 3D information and there never will be (well, maybe with Sims 2 someday). So when you select a base object you can’t build a 3D object over top of it because there’s nothing to build on. However, I am adding a feature to blue 2 where when you select a base object, you can optionally display the sprite image in the 3D viewport (because there are no views of it in the other angles) as a backdrop. I’ll post a screenshot of this feature and perhaps it will help with positioning objects. I’m just fiddling with the sizing to get it correct. IMO this would make things more complicated as having a full 2D image of something on the screen when you’re trying to build a 3D object over it might be difficult to digest. The template object support that’s been added will help with positioning and sizing as well so hopefully this issue should go away.
Which way is the object facing?
Yeah, you got me. Seriously though I’m bad with directions with blueprint. I’ve fixed this for the next version so you should be good to go.
Creating objects with mulitple frames is difficult
I know eh? What’s up with that. Yes, multiple frames is just plain weird in blueprint and while you can create T.Vs and such, it’s just a bugger to organize. This has been fixed in version 2 with animation frames.
Object values like bladder, etc. can’t be edited with blueprint but can with T-Mog
Another myth. Yes they can be edited in T-Mog but they don’t do anything. They just show up in the catalog like this. Both T-Mog and blueprint suffer from not being able to change the actual tuning values here. So far only Edith can do this (and even then it’s a chore to do and not very clear where to do it from) however the hope is to get blueprint to do this. We’re pretty close and getting closer with reality soon.
Grouping flips the object and messes it up
Software bug. Plain and simple. I just screwed up when writing that code and probably had way too many coffees or something that night. ‘Tis fixed.
Yes yes and yes. I know, this is something important and has been ongoing for sometime now. Why? Because in order to slice the image correctly you need to do raycasting in 3D to figure which pixel lies in what tile. Since there’s no raycasting support in blueprint, this is rather difficult (read: almost impossible). I’ve tried various ways around it and again, this is something that’s getting closer by the minute but will be a way off. The most interesting thing about this comment is that people say they use their 3D package and T-Mog to do multi-tile objects. Well, personally I haven’t seen any new multi-tile objects (except for rugs and such) out there. These are the same people that say they’re too lazy to learn blueprint yet will take (what seems like a lot of work to me) to build a multi-tile object with T-Mog.
In any case, hope that clears up somethings and gives you a warm gushy feeling about the direction blueprint is taking and what’s going on with it. Thanks for the feedback! (whew, long post huh?)
Welcome to the very often but sometimes missed newspost! Well heck. Okay, I’m slipping in my old age with daily posts. Could be the dozens of other projects I have on the go or RealLife 1.0 or maybe too much iced cappachinos. Nah. It’s just laziness. So sue me.
Okay, back to blue. Lots of neat stuff going on as I make headway towards that elusive 2.0 release. Yes, it’ll get there (and sooner than later) but these things take time. The odd thing is that not a heck of a lot of people are making things with blueprint 1.0. So this begs a few questions. Is blueprint too hard? Are there just not enough features? What seems to be the problem here. Email me with your ideas, opinions and otherwise dribble about what can be improved (or better yet, visit the funky forums and post your opinion and become flame bait all in the same message!). Anyways, if there’s something severely lacking (besides the obvious, multi-tile, texture bug, etc. give me some credit) then let me know.
There’s a Sims newsletter/CD in the works (not by me but I haven’t checked if they’re announced it yet so I won’t say who) that will probably contain special versions of blueprint (and other programs). Don’t fret. Once the issue following the issue with the software on it comes out, then I’ll make whatever goodies available on the site for you. Basically it’s a way for the newsletter/CD guys to have a bit of a jump on things. I know, life isn’t fair and it sucks to be you. Feel free to email me with whatever hate notes you think are appropriate.
I’ve also been getting a lot of just plain dumb messages lately. Grant you, I’m a bit of a cynic and tend to write off stupid people fairly quickly, but these messages take the cake. One guy wanted to write a program exactly like blueprint (calling it something else of course) so he wanted a copy of the blueprint source code and he would make his
“enhancements”. Uh… yeah, sure. It’s in the mail.
Greetings. Sorry about the news post last night (or lack thereof). I was out with friends and time just slipped away. My allocated Life 1.0 time for the month. I’m getting pretty close to the new version of blueprint 2.0. I was waiting for a 3rd party component to become available and it has. The new interface library has a pretty slick feature. Application skins. Basically blueprint will allow you to download and pick from dozens of application skins that will just change the look of the program for you. I know, this has nothing to do with object creation but it’s a neat thing to have. I say dozens of skins because they’re just being made available now, but as more people create application skins (much like the WinAmp skins) you’ll have more to choose from. Anyways, like I said, it’s not essential but it’s a cool feature.
Hi guys. Just a couple of things tonight (getting really hard these days to come up with something useful to say everyday). First, the 3DS DLL file that was on this site was for the alpha/beta/whatever-you-call-it release. It does not work for the latest (1.0) release so adding it anywhere in your system will just take up hard drive space. Nothing more. Second, I know I’m horribly behind on the tutorials and documentation. A bane of any programmer to get that done in a reasonable fashion. I am working on these when I have time but most of my minutes are dedicated to the actual program. New blueprint tutorials are popping up here and there and I’m in the throes of getting those online shortly. Thanks for hanging in there!