The Sims™ 3 Community Blog
: July 2012
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Mike True is a jack of alltrades – sometimes a modeler, sometimes a texture artist, and always a builder.He created the terrain in Lucky Palms as well many of the lots. Mike, can youtell us what it was like to work on the lots in this world and which ones areyour favorites?

I love building modern and mid-century architecture in The Sims 3. The tools really lendthemselves to those architectural styles and enable me to build creativelywhile still appealing to a large number of Sims players. The desert oasis ofLucky Palms was my opportunity to do just that! For Lucky Palms, we created afiction around a town that incorporated some older Spanish Colonial homes and aseries of developments from the mid-20th century, as well as some largecontemporary homes.  It’s difficult forme to pick a favorite house in this world, as I feel I put a lot of effort intoevery one that I built. However, my favorite neighborhood is definitely the drylakebed section. I loved trying to create the illusion of a once moderately successfuland perhaps somewhat speculative town that had fallen on hard times, but wasstill full of character (and characters!). This neighborhood gave me the chanceto build houses out of what had once been a storefront, or a gas station, or ayacht club on the banks of a now dried-up lake. I hope that players will enjoytelling the story of the Sims that live in this neighborhood, whether itcontinues its decline or becomes rehabilitated. Living in this neighborhood gives you the chance to meet somefascinating and eccentric neighbors, like the aging showgirl who lives in theabandoned theater. The option to explore this neighborhood within Lucky Palms allowsyou much more freedom in how you play.


As difficult as it is for me to pick a favorite house, I dohave a few that I find particularly special However, I suspect they aren’t theones most people would think. Players tend to like the large, elegant homes,but those are seldom my favorites. I like the Hudson residence because I thinkit resembles an older home that has been modernized by hipsters who have morestyle than cash, which is exactly the case for the Hudsons. It is a fairly nicehouse with a pool and enough room to accommodate more people, should theychoose to add on to the family. Not surprisingly, when I play, my Sims areconstantly remodeling!  Personally, Iwould choose to start out in the small, inexpensive hut near the military base. Although this lot is small, I would findit fun and challenging to improve upon. If I had to choose from among the nicerhouses, it would definitely be tough to turn down the King family’s house, as theyhave pretty much everything. Plus, the free form jungle pool looks like a tonof fun!


Currently, my favorite venue in Lucky Palms is the Sport FishingAquarium. This venue was added later than the others, after we realized that weneed a place for some saltwater fishing. I’m not sure how easy it is to fish atan aquarium in the real world, but your Sims can try it in Lucky Palms. Ienjoyed creating many of the other venues as well; the botanical garden was funand challenging to build, and I really like the state-of-the-art gym in LuckyPalms, where your Sims can relax in a new hot tub.

Alan Copeland is a designer for The Sims 3 who is responsible for manyof the fun gameplay objects featured in the Store, including the Triple RichesSlot Machine and the Hit ‘em Harder Blackjack Table found in The Lucky SimoleonCasino venue. He was also the designer for the Wishing Well, which is exclusiveto Lucky Palms. Alan, can you tell us a little bit about this mystical newobject?


The Sims has been one of my favoritegames for, like… forever.  Long before I became a designer for The Sims, I was casting spells in Makin’Magic.  I opened my first business in TheSims.  Many of my college years were spent playing University.  Ican remember playing a lot of video games, but nothing quite strikes the cordof nostalgia in the same way that TheSims does.  So, you can imagine how exciting (and terrifying) it canbe when we decide to reimagine a classic object like the Wishing Well, as wedid for Lucky Palms!


I love Mrs. Crumblebottom as much as the next Simmer, but wedidn’t want to make a direct port of the Wishing Well from The Sims 2.  We wanted this object to feel new, fresh and fun,in addition to having its own, unique sense of discovery.  The trickypixies that live in the Well rarely answer a wish in a straightforward or predictableway, so watch out for all of the varied outcomes if your self-serving Simdecides to use the Wishing Well and take the fast track to Wealth orPower. 


Aswe designed this object, we thought about the kinds of wishes that appeal toour players. Many Sims wish for love, so we took the opportunity to design forthis wish in a dramatic new way.  We thought about the classic story ofkissing a frog and it turning into Prince (or Princess) Charming, a story that lendsitself to many fun and humorous potential outcomes in The Sims. Perhaps your Sim has the “Commitment Issues” or “Loner”trait but wants to have a child.  Wishing for a bundle joy is a wonderfulnew way to grow your household  (and it gets even more exciting if youhave The Sims 3 Pets!).  Need a little pick-me-up?  The pixies arealmost always willing to share some Happiness with your Sim.  We reallytried to have a little something for every Sim, including those evil Sims who attemptto steal coins from the Wishing Well. 


Even after your Sim has done all of its wishing, there’s morefun to be had. Have you ever fished from an enchanted, pixie-infested wellbefore?  You’ll be amazed at some of the things you might be able to catch,regardless of your fishing skill level. The Wishing Well is one of my favoriteobjects that I’ve designed for The Sims 3and I hope that it turns out to be all that you could have ever wishedfor!   


01:41 AM
Posted by: SimGuruTaterTot
Categories: Special Guest 

Rebecca Shearin is the LeadArtist for the World Building team and our expert on modeling trees using theSpeedTree program. Lucky Palms is the first world from The Sims 3 Store to shipwith new trees. Rebecca, can you tell us about crafting the iconic desert florafound in Lucky Palms?

Trees! We love making trees! All of the trees we create forThe Sims 3 worlds are made using SpeedTree software, with just a few exceptions.Working within the limitations of the software and our game code presents manychallenges. Building assets for run-time games is no picnic. Vert counts, drawcalls, and texture size are the main areas of concern.  

When building a tree, we first do research to see what kindsof plants are appropriate for the world we are making. We then gather photo referencesto use as a guide throughout the process. This is my favorite task! Whileresearching, you learn about flora from different regions and climate zones andsometimes the discoveries made during the research phase end up influencing andeven changing our earlier choices.  

Because SpeedTrees come rigged for animation, all trees mustbegin from one of the many library files provided by SpeedTree. We don’t want ourtrees to look exactly like those from the library, so we alter both the modeland the textures to make them more unique and similar to the tree that we arereferencing from the photos we gathered. Some of the trees end up lookingnothing like the library model we began with, such as the fantasy trees andplants made for Lunar Lakes, which were loads of fun to concept and create!

The Joshua Tree proved to be the most challenging tree Imade for Lucky Palms, but it also turned out to be my favorite. Keeping thevert count within limits and getting the branches to ‘behave’ were the mostdifficult tasks for this particular tree. Here’s an image of the SpeedTree Joshua tree (left) and what it lookedlike after modifications (right):



Altering the model is more challenging than changing thetextures. It is not a simple matter of pulling verts around or deleting oradding a polygon or two (neither of which can be done directly). 

Before we get too far into modifying the library tree, thebottom of the trunk must be rounded off to avoid the appearance of a hole inthe bottom of the tree or a flat root base that protrudes awkwardly when a treeis placed on a slope.

After making some of our modifications, we look at the treein the world environment and make any necessary adjustments.  In addition to assessing hue and value, weexamine the tree’s overall scale and assign it a variation parameter  to determine the difference in size betweenthe small and large versions. Players can select their size in order tofacilitate placement.  

Trees and plants play a big part in creating uniqueenvironments. They help set a mood and provide opportunity to add depth andcolor. Trees help tell the story.  That’swhy, despite the time and effort, we love making trees!









01:29 AM
Posted by: SimGuruTaterTot
Categories: Special Guest 

Mike True is a jack of alltrades – sometimes a modeler, sometimes a texture artist and always a builder.He created The Lucky Simoleon Casino, a new venue in the world of Lucky Palms.Mike, can you tell us what it was like to build this awesome venue?

It is always an exciting challenge to build a venue for The Sims 3 Store and The Lucky SimoleonCasino was no exception. Fortunately, I was given some really great objects towork with for this lot and that made my job much easier. Unique assets such as thecasino tower sign, multi-story column, fountain and window really dictated theretro theme and helped to inspire me as I built the venue.

My favorite asset was the column, which was really thetaking-off point for the whole lot design. It also presented challenges, as thecolumns are available in three varying heights. This meant that I needed tocreate at least a three-level building. Observant players will notice I had thesame challenge on the Gothique Library venue. I made a somewhat controversialdecision right off the bat by opting to build a sprawling casino on a largelot. I wanted the player to imagine a slightly updated version of a classic casinothat had once hosted Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack! I tried to give a hint ofpossible stories players could tell in the venue, ranging from a familyvacation to a sizzling romance or even the perfect heist.  Whether players build their own amazingcasinos with these assets or alter this one to fit their style of gameplay, I hopethat they will place the casino and start playing in it right away.

A large and flashy asset like The Lucky Simoleon Casino Signis something that I had a lot of fun implementing.  When building with this asset, you can certainlyplace it on the corner of your lot and be done with it, but I wanted to suggestthat it can be used in other ways as well. I actually used it twice –once on anelevated platform and once anchored into the ground, incorporated into thebuilding itself. This placement started to dictate the size and shape of thebuilding. I typically try to avoid building cavernous spaces, but casinos inreality are huge and often crowded.  Iput a lot of thought into the size of the casino floor and made sure to includeenough slot machines and gaming tables so that Sims would have many choices forentertainment.

When I build, I usually sketch out the play areas withflooring and go back and forth from building the interior and exterior so thatboth are interesting as well as believable. Once I have a good concept of the floorplan and exterior, I start placing objects and filling out the interior space.I will add some colors and textures as ideas hit me, then complete the exteriorwith walls, fences, columns and other features, adjusting my choices until I amsatisfied. I follow this with a second pass on the interior. Landscaping isoften my favorite part, as I see the venue start to come together at thispoint.  My final step is to checklighting for the interior and exterior during day and night.  I like to step away from building the venueat this stage and return to it a bit later, tweaking my choices until I am satisfied.The team will then review it and make a few changes before it is tested forrouting, performance and gameplay, and edited accordingly. 

I am excited about The Lucky Simoleon Casino venue. I thinkthat players will enjoy it and I hope that it inspires them to build a casinoof their own!




12:09 AM
Posted by: SimGuruTaterTot
Categories: Special Guest