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Thingfishs' BATs

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Hi,

over the last couple of weeks I have been learning to create my first BAT. It is a rendition of the family business, Shottesbrooke Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia. This is a TD (Team Downunder) project.

picture51.png

At the moment my main problem is figuring out the best way of making the layout of the winery's gardens & paths accurate while allowing me to use props. I gather the use of base textures & LODs are the main ways. It been suggested using base textures (as these are easier on the game, plus there's so many great ones already) But won't I have to create a whole bunch of new ones to make the layout accurate?

This photo is my first quick go at LODs once I figured out roughly how they worked. There is a gap on the left hand side of the building which I assume is because of the LOD not being tight enough. But why the long shadows, some with wavy tops? There are also new textures issues with this version (the lawn is nuclear green, the pavers have changed colour etc,) (I am starting to feel a little burnt out, is this the point I try something else and come back to this one?)

sh2l.png

Also I would really appreciate ANY feedback from those that can see other mistakes I am making.

Thanks


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I don't know why the shadows are jagged like that, but I'm pretty sure if you re-export, they'll be fine.

For those bright green bushes at the very front of the lot. I would thin those out, so that they don't overlap as much. Right now it looks like the image of a bush has been stamped on top of your image, instead of looking like a tightly planted arrangement of individual plants. Something else that always helps with prop placement like that, is, after you've placed them, go through, one by one, and rotate each one relative to another.

Your first BAT is coming along well. If you're feeling burnt out on this one though, it's ok to start a new project. And once you've worked on something else for a little while, you'll have more experience, and when you come back to this building, you might find that there are improvements that you can make to it that you couldn't have before.

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  • Original Poster
  • thanks for the the reply Jason,

    I think I will try something else a little simpler, I really do want to get this right and I'm starting to feel inclined to cut corners... I will see if the next export solves the jagged shadows. As for the plants, I know they look bad but they were just placed there quickly because I couldn't find a prop that looked like the plant I was trying to replicate. Love your work btw, and thanks again.

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  • Original Poster
  • Hi,

    Just thought I'd post an update on my project in case there are any other improvements to be suggested. This is my first BAT with which I have learnt everything I know over the last 10 weeks or so. (and fingers crossed not much longer)

    This winery is a farming reward, it grows when enough vineyards grow. (later I intend to add a bottle shop or distribution centre or something to continue the chain)

    ARUwf.jpg

    I have been having problems with blurry tanks and have tried various approaches to fix the situation.

    The vineyards themselves are a work in progress. I want to make my rows as seamless as possible and have been experimenting with different configurations.

    If anyone has any advice on any of this, particularly making my vineyards look like the originals by couchpotato, it would be much appreciated. (I am using couchpotato's gmax model, minus textures and have been struggling to make them the same)

    8wXD3.jpg (my latest version, minus full post arrangement)

    rHpw7.png

    (couchpotato's original in a 5×1 arrangement by me that I later learned wouldn't work as a farm, here for comparison)

    Thanks for having a look.

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  • Original Poster
  •  Hi,

    It's been a while... 

    Though I am yet to release anything (I want my first release to be my first BAT, which has proven to be very complex) I have a number of projects on the go, here is my latest. This is the Makin Mattresses chain from Australia. This is currently a CS$$ stage 4 (or was it 3?) growable building, which occupies a 5x4 lot.

    Ignore the big lines through the shots. They're tessellation lines that I can't work out how to fix after previously fixing it (I had to set something in the NVIDIA controls with "clamp" in it's name to openGL; however, after a reinstall of Windows 7 this setting has vanished?)

    Also the upper left corner in the lower shot... what's going on there?

    No lotting has been done yet btw

    Please give any advice/compliments/abuse/chocolate you deem appropriate. ;-)

    nTzCS.jpg

    R8nVD.jpg

     

     

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    Makin Mattresses!! bellisimo, we have one of those in Fyshwick. I like your work so far both projects are coming out pretty well!

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    I'm glad to see you're still BATing.  1.gif

    For the walls, try making them .3d meters, and making the parapet wall (the part of the wall that extends above the roof) taller, by lowering roof itself.  Then, make the inside surface of the wall grey, as if it was made of a different material than the facade.  Then after that, add some thin, green flashing (flashing is basically a waterproof mini-roof/cap to the top of the parapet wall, so that water doesn't get in it) to the top of the entire wall.  This will give the impression that the wall is constructed of different parts, and not made out of Gumby.  3.gif

    About the lines going through the building, I don't know about NVIDIA (actually, I think that blocky pixelation in the 2nd picture is because of graphic card problems, and not a problem with your BAT), but if you open the .SC4Model file in ilive Reader, and select a S3D file, and then in the right pane, select the "Mats" tab, you can selecct each row in the list, and change the "Wrap Mode" U and V to clamb.  Each zoom and rotation has its own S3D file, and before you move on to the next file, click the "Apply" button.  There's a tutorial floating around here somewhere that explains it better.

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    Hey, good to see you're still around! 4.gif I remember we had a little chat about that stupendous winery of yours quite a while ago.

    As for those strange blocks appearing at the corner of your building, that's indeed a known nVidia graphics problem, as Jason correctly stated.

    I know those horizontal lines from the time when I had my nVidia Geforce 4 set to 2x or 4x Anti-Aliasing (AA). Disabling the AA feature for SimCity solved the problem for me. If you haven't already done so, you can give it a spin just to make sure that the problem is a mere display problem and nothing inherent to your BAT.

    As for the building, it should be a good choice for a first BAT, and it can be quite challenging to make such a boring shoebox building look bland in a detailed way, if you know what I mean. 2.gif Makin Mattresses, eh? Yet another chain I've never heard of... why does their logo remind me of Indiana Jones? Is that intentional? And if so, where's the context? If they made bull whips, I'd understand... 3.gif

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    A significant absence of roof junk makes this one less believable. For a building that massive, it's going to need a bunch of HVACs - either that, or the employees should get a paycheck bump with which to purchase deodorant...!

    I am also not sold on the rooftop texture - there needs to be more variation, staining, and texture noise - it looks a bit too even and deliberate. I think, though, with a combo of roojunk and an uneven texture, it could definitely work.

    If they make mattresses, shouldn't this be an industrial, not a commercial? Just thinkin'...or is this a storefront sort of place?

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    One thing... you shouldn't include little side walk sort of thingie around the actual building into the model. Case shadow in BAT and in Game doesn't fall in the same direction.

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  • Original Poster
  • thanks a lot for the feedback everyone bigtup.gif

    harishna:  Ah you're another Aussie, I figured you were from Mexico. wink.gif And you're from Fyshwick... it was hard not to find shots of the Fyshwick store while collecting materials: 

    2781740763_5c3e1108ba.jpg

    Jasoncw:  

    Originally posted by: Jasoncw
    For the walls, try making them .3d meters, 

    quote>

    What do you mean by .3d metres? I followed the rest of your advice, better? 242133.jpg

    TWrecks: Ah yes the winery... I still have nightmares. This is it in it's almost current state (the row of vines on the left have been replaced by my own seasonal models). Since the above shot it has been entirely relotted (and reduced by about  6 dependencies in the process). Then there is the turning it into a reward when the right number of the accompanying vineyards have grown..... The winery was my first BAT, not the Makin Mattresses; and what I was saying is that I want my first BAT to be my first release. But due to the relotting & the rewards (and the burning out), it's taken a bit longer than expected.

    ZpYZ8.jpg 

    I know the tessellation lines are not part of the model, they appear in all BATs of a certain size (Maxis as well)  in zoom 5.

    woxo5.jpg

    (Zoom 4)

    There was a tutorial I followed specifically to fix that issue with NVIDIA cards but now when I try and follow it I can't (missing clamp thingy...?) But that will be worked out. (I haven't tried your AA suggestion yet)

    As for the Indiana Jones reference, my take on it is that it's being used in an ironical and melodramatic sense. BIG. BOLD. "MAKIN MATTRESSES"  and then underneath in even bigger letters "WE MAKE MATTRESSES" (as if it weren't clear already) and just in case there's any doubt where or when these mattresses would be made... "RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW". wink.gif (no connection to IJ, just shameless use of it for marketing purposes)

    madhatter:  I mostly disagree in this case. As harishna correctly suggested, I have based this (mostly) on a RL building and that's pretty much all the roof junk there is:

    rYmwj.jpg

    Plus I have considerably dirtied up the texture compared to the RL version. I haven't got that central beam in any longer as it looked weird (I think mainly because it's part of a slightly peaked roof and I went with a flat roof instead).

    So do you mean "realistic" or do you mean "SC4istic" (that's a word right?), in which case I hear your point to a degree.

    As for making it an industrial, hmmm, maybe... thanks for the idea. I guess this is a combo deal as it's both the manufacturing plant (right here, right now) AND the point of sale (as evidenced by the small nice are of the building that actually has windows). Probably there is more need for manufacturing in game... What do people think?

    Simfox:  That's meant to be the foundation slab. I have made it thinner. Are you saying it needs to be a separate prop or that it needs to be done as base textures or whatever? I have looked at the building from all angles and the shadows all seem to be correct to me...?

    vz5Q5.jpg

    OHXkD.jpg

    I realise now I have to make the joins where the walls meet triangular so as to avoid that bad mismatched texture situation that can be seen on the left of the above shot.

    YtcJD.jpg

    What setting do I need to put in the reader to make my building have the whole building constructing like the building at the bottom of shot?

    mWRHa.jpg

    Now I know this is part of dealing with corrugated type images but any advice on how to minimise the diagonal lines on such things would be awesome (man they're annoying)

    adelaide_store.jpg

    Also what's the best way to deal with signs like I have on the building? At the moment they are png's with alpha maps used as textures on thin rectangles. However in the RL the main sign actually extends over the top of the roof (see picture), but when I do this there is a shadow given off from the whole rectangle, not just the visible letters. Does that makes sense? Is there anyway to avoid it?

    thanks!

     

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    Also what's the best way to deal with signs like I have on the building? At the moment they are png's with alpha maps used as textures on thin rectangles. However in the RL the main sign actually extends over the top of the roof (see picture), but when I do this there is a shadow given off from the whole rectangle, not just the visible letters. Does that makes sense? Is there anyway to avoid it?quote>

    As far as I know it's unavoidable. You'll have to either model the sign so that it casts proper shadows or cheat a little and leave the sign so that it doesn't extend above the roofline of the building. I'm guessing you're working in gmax so here's how you can easily model the sign. Right click on the appropriate window (right on top of where it identifies one of the four view screens). In the window that pops up, select other and smooth so that the wireframe model becomes textured. If the view screen is dark, you might have to do a preview render in the appropriate direction to get the lights  facing the right way. Zoom in as close as you can so that the sign as it is now fills your screen (hit w to make the view screen as big as possible). Turn off 3d snap and get out the line tool. Click around the sign so that you get a spline outline of it. Delete the old textured rectangle and remove the alpha map from the texture. Apply the sign texture to the new sign shape(s) and adjust as needed. If the sign ends up being more than one shape, to ensure the texture is accurate, you'll need to group all of the objects and apply one UVW modifier to all of them at once. It'll likely need adjusting, but the idea is that the UVW map should streatch out to each of the most distant edges of all objects in all dimensions.

    By the way, this isn't a bad little model. It looks a lot better with flashing along the roof line. One thing I spotted, where the green walls meet on the back left corner in the second picture is distorted. It looks like the two walls are overlapping. You'll need to either move them slightly so that they don't overlap or edit each of them so that their ends interlock.

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks spa for the excellent info there, much appreciated. However I bowed out of SC4 involvement for a while there and never finished that one off (but eventually will).

    This is my latest contribution to the world of, particularly, Australian players with another common retail business in Australia, the TAB. Common would be an understatement as these things are almost as frequent as pubs and churches. They are where all kinds of legal betting take place (horses, dogs etc). I will also be including the versions from interstate with their differing logos.

    Hq3t7.jpg 

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks Sgt. & Roger thumbsup.gif

    Actually, the building itself is a W2W corner shop in RL however it hadn't occurred to me to make it so in game; thanks for the idea!

     

    In these shots there are two versions (SA & QLD), on opposite corners. They are W2W corner lots (CS$) with parking out the back (just as in RL). There are also occasional male tantrums & whoops on the sidewalk & in the car park, depending on their luck. 2.gif

     

    9sFhJ.jpg

     

     

    mT16P.jpg


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  • Original Poster
  • Thank you very much Bixel; that's an honour coming from you.

    My latest project is a series of, what are known in Australia as, bottle-o's. These are drive through alcohol shops which we have a vast array of here. I am making six or so for the set (all real world businesses) as well as one new one, The Drunk Apple...

    These are all CS$, the signage is in HD and much is "internally lit" at night. Here are three: (from top) Dan Murphys, BWS & Cellarbrations.

    Spg6D.jpg

    This next shot shows the zoom 6/HD signage:

    34acE.jpg

    and finally a night shot:

    qaAXo.jpg

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    Wow, these all look so realistic! Great to see some Aussie businesses getting made.

    If it were up to me, I'd be rendering the entire buildings in HD, not just the signage. Also, one little thing, the sign on the side of BWS looks too stretched, you might need to mess with the UVW's.

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    lol, drive-through liqour stores?  That's pretty bad, even by American standards  3.gif

    It looks like they're already done?  The drive throughs look a little tight, 3x2 lots might allow for some more breathing room.

    I disagree with Cockatoo about making the buildings HD, but if you do decide to re-export anything, you can export the building and sign together.  imo when you can it's best to render things together rather than make props, since I think it's usually easier on the game engine, and it's a more streamlined modding process.  That's just my 2 cents though.

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    Well, my 2 cents from a lot maker's view is that separate signs allow for more flexibility when re-lotting something or when the author wants to offer several lot versions to begin with. 2.gif

    First I thought these were gas stations, but then I read that they are meant to fuel YOUR tank and not the one of your car. 3.gif Drive-through liquor stores... what a strange thing by European standards! I've learnt so much about different countries through SimCity, it's really amazing.

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks everyone for your thoughts (and cents). No, drive through bottle shops aren't done yet; now that the winery is finally released I am dividing my time between fixing up and releasing older BATs, starting new ones, and SimMedieval. I will get around to the bottle-o's eventually. 

    It sure can be confusing with all the differing opinions on certain things (HD being a prime example). But I've been around long enough now to take it all onboard and ultimately make my own decision (yay, it's taken a while ;-))


     
    Here are some simple shops I've made, not quite done yet, but most of the way. They are slightly oversized still, some will get some roof junk, and some colours will be desaturated. Also my verandahs are too wide and the occasional street lamp pokes through them. As always, constructive advice is much appreciated.
     
    These are all RL businesses from around Adelaide (Australia). The actual business I modelled is Absolute Value Clothing - the rest are reskins of that. There is so much variety in commercial areas and these will just add a little more to the mix (these are all 1x1 and I will probably make versions of each for 1x3 which is even rarer).
     
    I do intend to do at least a few more for the pack and will happily consider any requests for LW-MW aussie stores that might fit this format.
     
    gkIVj.jpg
     
     
    fC39i.jpg
     
    From L-R
     
    CIBO (Cafe)  
     
    Wog in a Box (italian fast food)
     
    Absolute Value Clothing (recycled clothing)
     
    Pumps and Systems (they sell pumps, and possibly systems)
     
    Mac Alert (mac computer sales)
     
    Oh and these shops are all painted single bright colours; that's what caught my eye and made me take a picture of them (as I was driving past...) 

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    G'day, nice too see you are keeping your self busy! Your creations will really add an Aussie flavor to the game. Regarding the latest shops I wonder if you planning to change the appearance roof to one or two of the buildings (too add a little bit of variation to the set), and I think like the windows on the side look a little bit weird, specially the one for the WOG BOX like lacking a little bit of depth or something... The bottle shops look fantastic, I agree with Jason maybe a 3x2 lot would be better, maybe you can also change the orientation of one of the bottle shops to make it perpendicular to the main street. I have seen some that have this orientation so you drive all the way to the back to enter the shop. I hope you understand what I mean.

    Cheers-

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    Nice, I'm glad to see some more work from you. 4.gif Saturation may need to be edited here, just a tad less saturation and I believe the textures would be great. The textures on the roof though are fine. To add some detail for the roofs, you could have some small roof junk and have it slightly altered on the other variations of the shops. Maybe some mullions to go on the windows(not where they cover the middle of the shop windows but like go along the window edges). It's good to see people BATing small things like these. I possibly would, but I'm addicted to highrises. 3.gif

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    Wog in a Box (italian fast food)quote>
     

    Oh dear...6.gif

    I'm not sure if you're aware, but this particular business might cause some misunderstanding with some UK members of this community.  I understand that in Australia that word isn't particularly offensive, and it's probably not even used in the US, but here in Britain it's right up there with some of the worst of the racist terms of the English language! 

    I understand that it's a real business, so I guess it's valid... just warning you of potential misunderstanding from a few of us poms. 

    These little buildings are a great addition to street level commercial areas!  I agree with the above that a couple of small roof junk objects and slight variation in roof texture (darkness/amount of staining etc)  would enhance them a bit.  I think the colours are more or less ok as they're intended to be bold blocks of colour - except maybe the lime green one, which is perhaps too bright and clean looking.  The sign on that one looks a bit stretched to my eye too. 

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