Weekend catch-up

Hi ho. Sorry I’ve been offline for a few days. ISP issues, playing catch-up with everything that’s going on and various other Life 1.0 issues got in the way. My apologies.

There has been quite a bit going on. So much so that I’m still sifting through it all. As most of you know, The Sims Vacation, the latest expansion pack, is now out and about. I have yet to get my hands on a copy and didn’t even know it was coming out so soon (I thought it was slated for May). So there are tons of things going on with that. I keep hearing rumours about various changes they’ve made and how the objects are different but like I said, I’m not sure what’s real and what’s not. We’ll see what happens and what changes were made. In the meantime, basically consider nothing SV compatible for now. I’ll see about unofficially “certifying” various programs and making sure they work with the latest pack and let you know about it. For the most part, things don’t change that much and I have heard people using the menu editor with SV objects but again, there are things that Maxis might have changed that I don’t know about yet without spending some time in investigation land. I’ll let you know.

Also another issue came up with blueprint that was typical of mob mentality. Basically someone ran some spyware detection software and claims blueprint (or the blueprint installer) says there is a trojan horse in it. Obviously this is completely false. All of my software has been out there for months and if anything like this was true, the world would have known about it long before this. The person also didn’t really have any hard evidence to prove their claim so it basically boiled down to a witchunt, with yours truely ready to be tied to the stake. For the love of all that is binary, please make sure you check all the facts before you go blurting them out to the world to see. The masses generally accept whatever you dish out to them, sight unseen and it can be damaging to someone. In my case, its water off a duck. It doesn’t bother me and even though there were various threads flying around, I know my software to be solid and true so I have nothing to worry about. However we tend to live in a “guilty until proven innocent” mode on the net, so you have to do some firefighting. In any case, if something like this comes up (not necessarily with me or my software) try to resolve the issue privately and make sure you have the full story before you go flying off the handle. It’s common sense, but more often than not people open their mouths without knowing everything. And yes, I’ll admit I can be that way too however we’re all growing and changing. Just be sensible and play nice.

Back in the (blue) saddle again

Hi guys,

So it’s been a couple of weeks since they removed various body parts from me. I’ve been a slacker and doing my best imitation of couch potatoe. Now its time to get back to business. In case you’ve been living in a cave or don’t know what I’m talking about, I went into the hospital with appendicitis a couple of weeks ago and came out 10lbs and 1 appendix lighter.

I’ve been back at work since Monday, but playing catch-up for the last few days (including squeezing in a .NET developers conference from Microsoft on Tuesday). However I’m pretty much 100% again (well, about 96% now but I’m getting there). A nice large 6″ gash to show for my foibles and goobers of email and stuff to catch up on.

It’s still going to be awhile yet before I’m caught up but here’s what’s happening. I’m just getting the beta agreements out to everyone for the new programs. I was in the process of starting that when I went under the knife. I have about 800+ emails to get through at home and another 200+ at work so I’ll be wading in my inbox for some time to come. I have to get a new version of blue2 to the testers asap, but as such I keep trying to hit a moving target. It’s difficult to create a cut-off point saying “No more fixes” and pass off the version. The problem arises from the fact that I don’t want to give them a buggy program when I know what needs to be fixed, I just need to take the time to fix it. It’s a delicate balance between picking something to fix or letting go and leaving it for later. Anyways, it’s not a matter of adding new features (much) and isn’t a never-ending process. At some point I will draw a line in the sand and pass it off, I’m just not sure when at this point. In any case, it’ll get there and into where it belongs (you) soon as I can. As a side note, I finally got my Personal Learning Edition of Maya installed and it’s very slick. This of course means I’m finding some great features in *that* software that I want to incorporate into blue. Oh well, there’s always version 3. So many features, so little time.

That’s about it. I’ll be back daily now to enlighten you with what’s going on. Please try to be patient with any email responses you’re waiting for, I’m just getting through everything myself. Thanks a lot for the words of encoragement, get well soon and all that jazz. I really appreciate it!

Hey, where did my appendix go?

Into the organ cremation unit, that’s where.

So judging from the 122 comments from my Resident Sims post, either I’m a popular guy or you’re wondering where the hell I’ve been for the past week. Sorry folks. On Friday morning I came early from work with stomach pains, hoping to ride them out that night only to end up in ER (not the TV show) having my appendix removed 8:00am the next morning. So I’m in recooperation mode and won’t be making many posts or doing much of anything for the next two weeks. I know you come here for my wit, my software, my incredible advancements in Sims programming (you do come for that don’t you?) but I won’t be around much.

So please mull around, say nice things about me behind my back and I’ll pop-in when I can. At this point it’s been Yak central at the blue household with Billy Boy running around in his boxers and tshirt just waiting to get better. I came home from the hospital this morning and father and rotten appendix are doing fine (at least I hope they found it a nice home). Thanks for your support!

Resident Sims

Yes, I’ve been silly the past day or so. Bite me.

So I was walking to work this morning in the -15F weather, thinking about todays post. A few weeks ago I announced a bunch of new programs coming shortly and as I was putting together the pages for these I discovered even more stuff that was tucked away in hard drive land. More apps that either made it to prototype stage or were just notes and screenshots of ideas I had. I did however stumble across something that was pretty close to release. With the upcoming movie release (March 15, go see it if you have nothing better to do) I thought it was appropriate.

A long time ago when I actually had time to do things, I put together what is essentially a mini-game inside The Sims. No, this isn’t an executable hack or some DLL add-on. It was created entirely with new objects, animations, sounds, etc. and yes, bless me peeps for I have Simmed, I used Edith. You start by purchasing a video game called “Resident Sims” from the electronics catalog (only 60 simoleons!). When your Sim picks up the game from a table, a menu option appears “Play Resident Sims”. This launches the game. First, you’re given a shotgun. Then a random number of zombies appear in your house. All of the external doors are locked. Your only option? Kill or be killed. The zombies will roam your house looking for food (you, your family or anything that’s remotely edible). If there are any Sims in the house they fall victim to the flesh eating zombies (complete with munching sounds) and die. You can shoot the zombies (sounds courtesy of Doom) and eventually they’ll go down, complete in a pool of blood that eventually bursts into flame and turns to ash. Sound bizzare? Yup. Sound violent? Definately.

This is not an add-on for the kids, kids but a very violent and excessively gory mess (especially after playing it for about 20 minutes as wave after wave of zombies appear). You gain simoleans with each kill so it’s not just shoot them up and clean up the mess. There’s an actual gain here to be well, gained. I basically created it (took about a month on and off) to really excercise Edith and see how far I could push the game engine. I think it’s pretty good but there are a few downfalls. It doesn’t work in downtown mode and will actually crash the game (big time and nothing I can fix about it). It’s also a little hard to end the game so you just keep shooting up zombies until you save and exit The Sims. I couldn’t figure a way out of it (yet) so it’s not something for everyone. In any case, it’ll still take me a couple of weeks to get it working again (I did it pre-HP but tested it with HD so there’s still work to be done). I’ll post some screenshots of it once I get my computer to stop barfing (I’ve lost my inbox twice this week already, thanks Microshaft!). If anyone is interested of course…

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CopyNo update

Just a quick update on the CopyNo website and concept. I got an email from the creator, Bob Staake, explaining a few things. He said “CopyNo is far more than simple JavaScripting. It is a comprehensive,

multi-faceted image protection system that works on a variety of levels”
. CopyNo takes the task of generating the HTML code for image (or series of images) and automates this with his drag’n’drop tool. The whole process costs $20, which is pretty minimal in todays world. My apologies to Bob for perhaps being a little snippy about it earlier. The website didn’t seem to explain it in detail but I completely agree with the concept behind it. Anyways, thanks to Bob for pointing that out to me.

A new fad or a new way to protect yourself?

I’m always hunting around for new and interesting things and being active in the comic industry, I find some neat new stuff from time to time. This one may be of interest to all Sim creators. Bob Staake, an artist over at Planet Cartoonist, has come up with a new technique to discourage people from stealing images from websites. The concept is called CopyNo and is basically a combination of techniques to prevent people from stealing your images. For the most part, most people just right click on an image (say a skin, or a wall texture) and save the image. In IE 6 they’ve even added a small popup menu that displays some options for image files (a small floating toolbar with a save, print, etc. icon). So anything that could discourage people from taking images this way would be a good thing. True, there’s always ways around it but if you have to make them work for their theft, sometimes its enough to chase would-be image grabbers away.

The concept is easy. A pre-defined image of a big “No” symbol (like you see on No Snorting signs) which appears when a user tries to download or even mouse over an image, a link to the CopyNo site and the warm fuzzy feeling that your artwork is a little safer on the world wide webbage. Essentially the software he provides for a $20 registration fee allows you to create the HTML source for an image (or series of images) with all the legwork done on the Javascript side to provide this image protection.

People always are trying to protect their artwork with watermarking, key pixels, and all kinds of tricks. This just adds to it and does make it difficult to grab an image. So for the Sims community I would suggest looking into something like this. You can check out the details of this technique here and see it in action. Let me know if you implement it on your own sites.

blueprint elves still at work, Yahoo groups down today.

Heya. Not much to say tonight. Me and the blue elves are still hammering, stitching and cobbling together things for the site. There’s just so much more than I had thought. I have 18 programs to maintain with pages, documentation, etc. for each. Sheesh. Quite a bit to handle with the few hours I have each night but we’ll get there. Rob & Sam, no forgiveness needed. I got the joke. The other unfortunates need to just relax and little and stop taking everything I say literally. Still Waiting, the “few days” reference was in regards to the changes on the site, not blueprint. That is still moving forward, testing, debugging, fixing and all that jazz. Glad you’re still waiting since (IMO) the wait will be worth it in the end. If not, then 100% money back guarantee. I’ll even double your money back on blueprint. Hell, double your money back on all my software if you’re not completely satisfied. Please note, Yahoo groups seems to be down today so you probably won’t get this news item delivered to your inbox. Sorry about that. Have a good evening folks.

Pay site? Never!

Hi guys. I had a plan to get everything complete by today but as usual (I don’t even wanna hear it, so stop right now) time wasn’t on my site. However, to quelch all the rumors, this site is NOT going pay, subscription or otherwise. I have always made a promise to provide free Sims tools at the cost of my own time and this has and never will change. So you stop thinking about that right now too. Having said that, yes there are some major changes both to the site and the programs but I’m not going to get into it right now. Why? I don’t want to commit anything to record until everything is complete and in place. There have been hints dropped and perhaps some rumors flying around and I’ve even heard discussions about what’s going on in the chat rooms. Just give me a couple of days to get everything in sync and we’ll be good to go. Sorry about any anticipation you guys are subject to. Yes, some of this just hype but in the end, blueprint will become a great “resource” to the Sims community. Catcha later.