Hey guys. Just trying to wind down for the weekend a bit. Looking forward to spending some time on some Sim tools so I’m off for the weekend on that crusade. Back on Monday with news. The guys from the chat still haven’t emailed me the transcript but I’ll get that online as soon as I can. Also doing some website changes/updates this weekend. Seeya.

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Well, the chat is over. Argh. My humble apologies.

Things really didn’t go very well as far as a chat goes, IMO. First off, the questions were being asked by a moderator then typed out by a typist at their end. Of course, if anyone can imagine it’s pretty near impossible to compose a paragraph of coherent thought in your head without seeing what you’re saying. Especially when the typist was stopping mid-sentence to ask for spelling confirmations. ARGH!

Second, I had no idea the chat site was inaccessible to non-US people. It’s something to do with the entire site, not just the chat. Of course, being in Canada I couldn’t even get into my own chat! Sigh.

So I apologize to everyone not in the US or who couldn’t make the chat. I’m not sure what I said or what it came out as but they’re emailing me a transcript of the chat which I’ll be posting here later. Thanks to everyone who did drop by. I think things were interesting as we covered topics like comic books, the railway, game design and of course, The Sims.

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Hiya. So the chat starts in a couple hours over at LabZone. We’ll be talking about Sims tools and such and whatever else comes up. See you there!

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Well this is cutting it under the wire. The LabZone guys emailed me about tommorows chat so here’s the info. The chat starts at 2:30 pm EST. Just before the chat, go to their website and they’ll be a “Chat room link info” link that will take you to the chat. The chat is moderated so you submit questions, some chick talks to me on the phone and relays the answers back to the chat (hopefully emulating my sardonic wit at the same time). I know, a little odd since I can keep up with 50 or so people in a chatroom, but it’s their way. Info about the chat is posted on the site now (not much) with a pic and bio of me. So get your questions together and see you tommorow!

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In other Sim news…

Transgaming has released a new version of WineX. WineX allows you to run x86 windows games and programs on x86 Linux. It includes allmost full directx support (up to 7 including direct3d). What’s this got to do with The Sims you ask? Transgaming has their own, apparently optimized version, of The Sims that they bundle with this package that runs under WineX. Apparantely the commerical Windows version doesn’t. The cost of the gaming edition is $69 US which includes their Linux (Mandrake) distribution, installer and a copy of The Sims. I guess they’ll be supporting the expansion packs as time goes on. A little sad though since it means that if you want to run The Sims under Linux you have to buy their version (and perhaps their future versions of other Windows games). I’m not sure what optimizations they make or how they make them or what involvement Maxis had in all this. The concept of WineX was to allow you to run Windows programs under Linux so it would open up more software (including games) to people wanting to run that operating system. So if you go down this route, you’re stuck buying your “Windows” games from them (since they’re somewhat changed from the off the shelf Windows versions) and thus if you decide to go back to Windows as an operating system, you have a game that might not work with it. A little odd if you ask me. Anyways, one step closer to removing that mulit-boot that I have to do everytime I want to run Linux.

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Okay, back to The Sims. I keep recieving a lot of email from people asking the same old questions so I figure I’ll just whisk through a few of the gems here which should answer some questions. At some point when I have time I’ll sit down and do a FAQ for the site. Yeah yeah, I know. Some point. You get what you pay for eh.

Q: Where are the tutorials!

A: They’re still in my head (and partially on my hard drive). Writing any documentation is always the bane of any programmers existance and we avoid it like the plague. It’s been a long time without them and I’m slightly torn spending time writing ones for the current version of blueprint while it doesn’t do everything it really should and I’d rather concentrate on the new version and writing tutorials for it. Of course since you don’t get a copy yet, it doesn’t make much sense to do this for the site. Bit of a conundrum. I’m also a little biased because I fire the program up and don’t seem to have any problems getting around, but then I wrote it didn’t I? I think one of the major issues with tutorials (besides them not being online) is that people write me and say “I don’t know what to do!” and expect a tutorial to show them the weirding ways. Maybe it will but I thought the program was fairly self-explanatory. Then again, the time it took me to write this mini-FAQ could have been spent working on the tutorials? Not enough coffee Bil? Probably. Anyways, they’ll get online as soon as I can find time.

Q: Why isn’t blueprint/SimExplorer/etc. Open Source?

A: I love the Open Source movement (even more so than The Sims themselves) and have several OS programs on the go right now. Open Source is the facility where a developer (or team of developers) makes the source code, the human readable instructions as to how the program works, available to the public with every release of the software. Unfortunately, some of the routines I use belong to Maxis and I don’t have the authorization to release that to anyone. This also explains why I can’t yank in a large team of developers and get everyone working on the programs and subsequently why it takes a coons age to get software completed.

Q: What language are your programs written in?

A: Everything is written in C++. This is my language of choice (although I do enjoy writing in Delphi/Object Pascal as well) but also it makes the programs compatible with other routines I use for loading IFF files, reading sprites, etc.

Q: Where are the file formats described?

A: I started documenting the formats (staring with the FAR format and moving through the character ones) earlier this year. Again, like the tutorials, they’ll go online as soon as I can find time to complete them. The hope is that well documented file formats (with sample source code in various languages to help the budding programmer) will help people write their own tools. At least that’s the plan. I’m not the evil dictorial programmer that wants everything to himeself that everyone thinks I am. Really. Okay, that didn’t sound too convincing did it?

Q: Your program xxxxxxx doesn’t work, help me!

A: You need to spend a little time telling me the problem. I can’t tell you how many times I get email like this, with the only option to just delete it and hope the person will either a) figure it out themselves b) post a message on the forum and someone might answer (even me) or c) email me back with more information about the problem. Telling me the program doesn’t work just doesn’t do anyone any good and won’t solve your problem. I know software can be frustrating, but if you don’t explain what you were doing, what happened, etc. then I really can’t help you.

Q: I asked Maxis about your programs but they won’t help me!

A: I really get this question asked, a lot. Please for the love of all that is holy do not email Maxis, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, IBM, or Masters and Johnson about my software. They don’t support it and have enough things to deal with for their own software. Please check and post in the forums here or via email. Posting a message on another message board (whether I frequent there or not) and then screaming at me because I didn’t answer you won’t help either. As strange as it may sound (and it does to me), this site is the main source of information for my programs. If you’re having problems with The Sims in general, you might try the forums here but again don’t email me with issues about installing the game or where to get cheat codes or any of that stuff. I know this sound silly, but I get goobers of email from people asking me tech support questions on the game. I am not affiliated or associated with Maxis in any way.

Have a day!

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I’m bored and rather unproductive this morning so I thought I would pass onto you a wacked list of weird toys. Apparently some equally whacked Reverend makes a list every year of toys he thinks is innapropriate for public consumption. This year sports some nice pus-ridden, viral infected, reindeer pooing and sexually suggestive creations for your tots. Enjoy over your morning coffee. Be warned, I take stabs at various religious icons. There is no shame in the internet and very little Sims content in this post.

1.- Bounce n’ Shake Wacky Mike from movie Monsters Inc., by Disney’s Pixar. Ages four and up.

Children violently interact to hurt, cause pain to lovable Mike character. Highly and sadly interactively violent. What were they thinking when they designed this toy?

Maybe the question should be “What were they thinking when they released the movie?”. Personally I think a toy named “Wacky Mike” is pretty slick, no matter what it does.

2.- Electronic Stretch Screamers by Manley Toy Quest. Ages five and up.

How far can you stretch your monster? Listen to him scream. Pus comes out of the head when squeezed.

Yum. What’s a good toy without a little pus thrown in the mix. At least they’re promoting realism. Last time I squeezed someones head, pus did indeed spurt out.

3.- Resident Evil: William Birkin and Sherry set, based on the Sony Playstation video game. Ages eight and up.

As Birkin continues to mutate he will seek out suitable subjects for implantation of his G-virus embryo. He is drawn to his daughter Sherry, whose compatible genetic code makes her the perfect specimen. . . .

The list researchers say this toy borders on promoting incest. Of course I fail to see how getting infected by a virus and incest are anywhere near each other on the morality scale. I would love to see the good Rev. sermons. “Blessed be those that are infected. You, you in the third row with the cold! Incestuous sinner!”. Yes, yes. It’s a G-virus embryo, but that doesn’t mean it grows into a giant creature from the black lagoon. Or does it? Never mind. Resident Evil rocks. We need more zombies in The Sims.

4.- Finishing Moves, World Wrestling Federation action figures by Jakks Pacific. Lita versus Bubba Ray Dudley. Parental guidance suggested.

Male figure has tongue hanging out, with his head between female action figure’s legs. Sexually suggestive.

I haven’t seen this toy so I can’t comment, but any toy that is associated with the WWF needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s time kids were introduced to the evil nature of oral sex and what better way to do it (besides a copy of Dr. Suess’ Kama Sutra) than the WWF?

5.- Fisher Price Mummy King Play Set by Mattel Toys. Ages three and up.

Action figure’s mask shoots off, fists shoot off. Frightening action figure for a toddler.

Alright! Flying fists of fury. We definately need this feature for Bella Goth next time she goes on a hissy fit over one of her paintings.

6.- Max Steel N-Tek Adventure Pack: Explosives by Mattel Toys. Ages four and up.

Realistic set demonstrates explosives as an innocent, fun plaything.

You mean explosives are not innocent? And when will someone make an explosive set for The Sims? I’m dying to see Bob Newbie’s head go flying across my Sim carpet.

7.- Monsters Inc. Splatter Dome by Disney’s Pixar and Hasbro. Ages five and up.

Make and destroy gooey creations, including a teddy bear. Children are able to act out their anger and frustration destructively in guise of fun, with no consequences.

Is it just me or saying gooey and teddy bear in the same sentence just doesn’t sit well. And such violence from Disney.

8.- Lord of the Rings Orc Overseer by Toy Biz. Ages five and up.

Orc Overseer can whip newborn Urak Hai as he rises out of his birthing sac. Toy depicts sado-masochism, encouraging child to whip deformed newborn being.

Whipping deformed newborn beings? If kids think Orcs are real then Mommy and Daddy need to have a talk with them about the fine line between fantasy and reality and stop taking them to Lord of the Rings movies claiming them to be documentaries.

9.- Oh Deer – The Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper by Midlon Foods Inc. Ages three and up.

Jelly bean toy inappropriate for sale in children’s toy store. . . . Insensitive and offensive to Christians celebrating Christmas. Offensive to secular holiday season.

I guess the wacky flavours of jellybeans (or whatever they were) from Harry Potter is out too. No vomit flavored candy this year. Just hope I don’t get any of these in my stockings.

10.- Stan Winston Creatures by Stan Winston Creatures. How to make a monster; the visitor; Queen of the lair. Ages five and up.

Graphic depictions of gore, mutilation, pain, suffering, with highly questionable value as playthings for five-year-olds.

I don’t know about you, but I would say “Cool” if I was five and got this under the tree.

Maybe some of these toys are inappropriate for children, but they sure would look spiffy on my desk at work.

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Hiya. Quiet weekend as I wind down from the snow here. Anyways, this week (Thursday) I’m hosting a online chat courtesy of LabZone. More details will be coming up about the chat, but it’s an hour long, you guys connect via a chat client (or perhaps IRC, I’m not sure) and I’m on the phone to the moderators of the chat who are relaying the questions to me and typing my answers into the chat. A little odd if you ask me but they say it’s effective. Like I said, more info later this week about how to join in. Should be fun.

BTW, those that are unfamiliar with the process of creating a snow angel (boy are you guys deprived of a joyous thing) you basically fall flat on your back in some fairly deep snow and then flap your arms and legs up and down. The arms form the wings of the angel and the legs (moved in and out or left and right, whichever way you want to do it) form the base of the angel. Stand up and voila, a snow angel. Well, maybe a video is needed.

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Taking the night off. It’s been snowing here all day so I’m off to make snow angels. Beats the hell out of making dirt angels. I always end up getting gravel in my underoos. Catcha later.

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Hi guys!

Lets kick off the weekend with a software update! I’ve updated my SIFBuilder program to version 2.0.0. This version adds a few new cool features that should be useful to all object creators (at least that’s the intent). Information is now read from the IFF files and automatically put into your SIF file. Less typing all around when entering information for your objects. A quick “Save” button that will export automatically based on the filename of the IFF file (with a SIF extension) and other goodies. Below is the screenie from the latest version and you can grab it from the SIFBuilder page here. Enjoy!

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