June 4th dev update - learn about object creation

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SimGuruGrahamSimGuruGraham Posts: 837 SimGuru
edited June 4 in Discuss
If you're interesting in learning more about how we create games at Maxis, you've come to the right place. This post is a follow up to our reveal of the winning objects - as selected by all of you in the community. Let's dig into some details about what an asset guide is, and what we're currently doing in this stage of development!

With our objects for this upcoming Stuff Pack now selected, our concept artists have started work on creating object guides. Whereas the original concept art provides a basic look at each asset we'll create, a guide ensures that nothing is left open to interpretation for the modeling artist. This includes showing the object from different perspectives, and visualizing the scale of an object in contrast to the height of a Sim. It answers all construction questions, such as... Should the object tile seamlessly if it's placed next to itself? What size should the object's footprint be? Does the object emit any light or VFX? How shiny should various surfaces of the object be? Perhaps most importantly to players, the guide shows every color and pattern variant that the object will have, with each of the color values defined precisely.

Here's an example of an object guide for a dining chair from The Sims 4 Bowling Night Stuff...

tmar3skn4p3d.jpg


Guides are our concept artist's final step in the process before we hand the art off to external partners. We have both internal artists who work here as part of the Maxis team, as well as external partners that help flesh out the breadth of catalog content that every pack includes. Our external partners first put together orthogonal drawings, and then go on to create the geometry and texture that the model uses. Our internal artists tend to work on brand new types of objects, while our external partners are given concept art of objects that match a template of something we've already created. We accomplish this by creating something we call a "block model". Block models are the simplest way to represent the different types of objects you see in-game, and they contain key information that every object of the same type must include to function properly. For every object that you see multiples of in-game (beds, bookcases, dining chairs, trash cans, mailboxes, etc), a block model exists that defines its bare necessities.

Here's an example of a block model for the dining chair from base game...

agtboow9rucs.png


In that image you have the most basic form of a dining chair, as seen from top, front, and side profiles, as well as in perspective. The green portion of the model denotes a contact surface, meaning this is the part of the object the Sim's body will make contact with when using the object. In this dining chair block model, the contact surface shows where the Sim will sit, and how far the Sim can lean back when sitting. The yellow portion of the model shows where it's safe to build the geometry of the rest of the chair. As long as the chair is built within the space that the yellow area occupies, then the geometry won't extend beyond the object's footprint, and will minimize issues with the object causing clipping with other objects, or with the Sim. The block model also contains other important information, such as "bones" - which serve as the anchor point on the object that animations are authored against, "VFX joints" - the origin point for where visual effects spawn, and "decorative slots" - the spots on the model where smaller objects can be attached. (Such as placing a potted plant on a table.)

Getting back to the role of our external partners, the block model is a guideline for what they can build. They take the concept art provided by the artists here at Maxis, and their first step is to create an "orthogonal drawing". Orthogonal drawings are a way to show three dimensional objects on a two dimensional plane, which allows the modeling artist to have an exact blueprint of the object's shape from the front, back, side, and top. This is accomplished by re-drawing the concept art superimposed over an image of the block model, without exceeding the borders of the block model. The artist then builds a 3d model that matches the visual shown in the concept art, and fits within the space defined by the orthogonal drawing.

Here's an example of an orthogonal drawing that was created for the dining chair from The Sims 4 Bowling Night Stuff. You can see how the drawing is superimposed over the image of the dining chair block model, and fits entirely within the borders of the block model...

6c121idylacf.jpg


Sometimes you may hear SimGurus refer to "mimics". A mimic is simply a type of object that already has a block model, so that it can be referenced by our external partners, allowing us to easily replicate it. For an object to be a mimic, it means that all functionality on the object remains the same, and only the visual appearance of the object changes. This also helps define the difference between what our internal artists at Maxis do, in contrast with our external partners.

When we need a new type of object - even if the change is a minor one - it's always created by one of the artists here at Maxis. A great example of this is the large round dining table that came with The Sims 4 Backyard Stuff. While round dining tables already existed in the game, they could only seat four Sims. This new dining table was larger with room for six Sims, but that meant that the existing dining table block model could not be used. As such, one of our artists here in the studio created a new block model for a large round dining table, which can now be mimicked in future packs. While the large round dining table was a simple task for an internal artist, new objects can also require a level of complexity that requires more immediate feedback from Art or Production. An internal artist can quickly reach out to others in the studio to resolve any issues that arise.

You may be left wondering, why does the distinction between external partner and internal Maxis artist matter? It's important because it affects how we determine what we can make in each pack. For example, in the recent vote you selected your top 28 objects. Those 28 objects can include any type of mimic-able object in the game... which now includes that large round dining table, thanks to the work that we did internally for The Sims 4 Backyard Stuff. Each Stuff Pack has a set schedule, and all of our internal artist's time has to fit within that schedule. We made the decision that the large round dining table was an important enough part of that pack that we wanted to spend an internal artist's time on it. That's the same pool of time we use when determining which new gameplay features we can include.

While this information may be a lot to take in, the work that I'm describing is all part of what we call pre-production, the period of time where most of us on the Stuff Pack team haven't even actively started working on this pack's development yet!

Comments

  • TriplisTriplis Posts: 2,024 Member
    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing these insights into the process.
  • bevillebeville Posts: 818 Member
    Thank you for sharing this information about how items are put together for our beloved game. ;)
  • rosemowrosemow Posts: 108,387 Member
    Hello. Thankyou very much for writing this very informative article on the development of objects creations. :) It was great to read the details and process, and what an object consists of.
  • BreeMilesBreeMiles Posts: 5,855 Member
    Wow, this looks very amazing and interesting for sure! Thanks for all the detail!
  • LiELFLiELF Posts: 639 Member
    I'm really enjoying all of the presentations for learning the development process. I think that, in the end, it's going to be a real eye opener for many of us to find out just how intricate and time consuming a few objects can be. I really do appreciate you guys sharing your studio methods to give us a chance to really understand the efforts of creating a Sims pack. :)
  • Writin_RegWritin_Reg Posts: 23,608 Member
    Thank you for sharing this info. Always interesting to see it first hand.
  • simguyssimguys Posts: 55 Member
    Thanks to share this, It's very interesting, I thought you made all the content in-house.
  • FreezerBunnyCowplantFreezerBunnyCowplant Posts: 1,402 Member
    Thank you for sharing this and your transparency! The block model thing is very interesting. :)
    @SimGuruGraham I found a block model in the game files a while ago. Can you tell me which object this is? Looks kind of weird.
    Gmhg9uP.png
  • IngeJonesIngeJones Posts: 2,844 Member
    Looks like a showertub
  • CinderellimouseCinderellimouse Posts: 17,278 Member
    Thanks for the info Graham, I like hearing about the behind the scenes stuff. The info about block models is especially interesting and sheds more light on how more room for flexibility there is with a mimic.

    So, does this mean we could get more variations of the tall counter tables from Dine Out at some point? I'd love more 1x1 counter height tables for bars and clubs. And maybe something that could be used as a breakfast bar.
  • applezingapplezing Posts: 2 New Member
    Oooh, this is awesome! A really neat insight into the object creation process. I think my favorite part is the details on the object specular - that's always been something of a mystery to me. Any chance there are more specular codes you could share with us?
  • SimGuruGrahamSimGuruGraham Posts: 837 SimGuru
    edited June 6
    Thank you for sharing this and your transparency! The block model thing is very interesting. :)
    @SimGuruGraham I found a block model in the game files a while ago. Can you tell me which object this is? Looks kind of weird.
    Gmhg9uP.png

    That was a block model for a toilet stall. You can see the contact surfaces for where the Sim would have sat, where Sims with the Handiness skill would have used a wrench on it, and on the door at the front of the stall where Sims would have pushed it open. It was originally planned for base game, but ended up getting cut long before the game shipped - before the game was first revealed to the public even. I don't believe it ever got past the block model phase, so there wasn't a whole lot of work done on it.

    I will note that this isn't indicative of a toilet stall being added in the future, although I do agree with sentiment that other players have expressed who want to see it return.
  • Writin_RegWritin_Reg Posts: 23,608 Member
    edited June 6
    Thank you for sharing this and your transparency! The block model thing is very interesting. :)
    @SimGuruGraham I found a block model in the game files a while ago. Can you tell me which object this is? Looks kind of weird.
    Gmhg9uP.png

    That was a block model for a toilet stall. You can see the contact surfaces for where the Sim would have sat, where Sims with the Handiness skill would have used a wrench on it, and on the door at the front of the stall where Sims would have pushed it open. It was originally planned for base game, but ended up getting cut long before the game shipped - before the game was first revealed to the public even. I don't believe it ever got past the block model phase, so there wasn't a whole lot of work done on it.

    I will note that this isn't indicative of a toilet stall being added in the future, although I do agree with sentiment that other players have expressed who want to see it return.



    Yes - I am one who definitely would like to see this return.
  • KlthfKlthf Posts: 102 Member
    Thank you for this interesting information. So if I understand correctly all 29 build/buy assets that have been selected are considered mimics and will be developed by external partners (with the exception of the 29th object that was added as an extra). New objects require a block model that is developed by an internal Maxis artist. Does that mean that any object that would require an internal Maxis artist to work on would be considered a new gameplay object (like the six seat table)? Will we also see these kinds of new objects in the upcoming gameplay objects vote?
  • LosaruTaiyoLosaruTaiyo Posts: 8,355 Member
    Thank you for sharing this and your transparency! The block model thing is very interesting. :)
    @SimGuruGraham I found a block model in the game files a while ago. Can you tell me which object this is? Looks kind of weird.
    Gmhg9uP.png

    That was a block model for a toilet stall. You can see the contact surfaces for where the Sim would have sat, where Sims with the Handiness skill would have used a wrench on it, and on the door at the front of the stall where Sims would have pushed it open. It was originally planned for base game, but ended up getting cut long before the game shipped - before the game was first revealed to the public even. I don't believe it ever got past the block model phase, so there wasn't a whole lot of work done on it.

    I will note that this isn't indicative of a toilet stall being added in the future, although I do agree with sentiment that other players have expressed who want to see it return.

    I would be another that would be interested in this return.
  • Mchap353Mchap353 Posts: 1,672 Member
    Thank you for sharing this and your transparency! The block model thing is very interesting. :)
    @SimGuruGraham I found a block model in the game files a while ago. Can you tell me which object this is? Looks kind of weird.
    Gmhg9uP.png

    That was a block model for a toilet stall. You can see the contact surfaces for where the Sim would have sat, where Sims with the Handiness skill would have used a wrench on it, and on the door at the front of the stall where Sims would have pushed it open. It was originally planned for base game, but ended up getting cut long before the game shipped - before the game was first revealed to the public even. I don't believe it ever got past the block model phase, so there wasn't a whole lot of work done on it.

    I will note that this isn't indicative of a toilet stall being added in the future, although I do agree with sentiment that other players have expressed who want to see it return.

    I would be another that would be interested in this return.

    Me too
  • SimGuruGrahamSimGuruGraham Posts: 837 SimGuru
    Klthf wrote: »
    Thank you for this interesting information. So if I understand correctly all 29 build/buy assets that have been selected are considered mimics and will be developed by external partners (with the exception of the 29th object that was added as an extra). New objects require a block model that is developed by an internal Maxis artist. Does that mean that any object that would require an internal Maxis artist to work on would be considered a new gameplay object (like the six seat table)? Will we also see these kinds of new objects in the upcoming gameplay objects vote?

    That's all exactly correct :)

    I think this contributes to the occasional friction where SimGurus refer to something as having new gameplay, when players don't consider certain things to constitute new gameplay. We have a tendency to think about things from a development perspective, where it matters who works on which aspect of the game, and how it impacts our schedule.

    And yes, the Feature vote on June 23rd will consist entirely of new gameplay, and will be things that are developed entirely here at Maxis, once this pack actually enters full production later this year.
  • KlthfKlthf Posts: 102 Member
    Klthf wrote: »
    Thank you for this interesting information. So if I understand correctly all 29 build/buy assets that have been selected are considered mimics and will be developed by external partners (with the exception of the 29th object that was added as an extra). New objects require a block model that is developed by an internal Maxis artist. Does that mean that any object that would require an internal Maxis artist to work on would be considered a new gameplay object (like the six seat table)? Will we also see these kinds of new objects in the upcoming gameplay objects vote?

    That's all exactly correct :)

    I think this contributes to the occasional friction where SimGurus refer to something as having new gameplay, when players don't consider certain things to constitute new gameplay. We have a tendency to think about things from a development perspective, where it matters who works on which aspect of the game, and how it impacts our schedule.

    And yes, the Feature vote on June 23rd will consist entirely of new gameplay, and will be things that are developed entirely here at Maxis, once this pack actually enters full production later this year.

    Thank you very much for your answer. We all have different perspectives and therefore different expectations. This information really helps in defining those differences. It is interesting to see what is considered a gameplay object and this really makes me see things differently.

    I am looking forward to the feature vote and I am excited to learn about the new gameplay objects that we will be able to vote for.
  • SimaniteSimanite Posts: 3,960 Member
    When are we gonna see the clothes @SimGuruGraham
  • SimGuruGrahamSimGuruGraham Posts: 837 SimGuru
    Simanite wrote: »
    When are we gonna see the clothes @SimGuruGraham

    Right now :)
  • SimaniteSimanite Posts: 3,960 Member
    Simanite wrote: »
    When are we gonna see the clothes @SimGuruGraham

    Right now :)

    Thanks. :lol:
  • joepjoep Posts: 1 New Member
    that's nice but wish you would do more with build objects windows doors floors we had a better selection in sims 2 than you do now
  • EvaAngel2017EvaAngel2017 Posts: 1 New Member
    Весь Симс это шедевр! Аналогов которому никогда не будет. Я психолог и я в шоке! Единственное, что я задаю себе каждый день -Как? -Как Вы это делаете? Вы волшебники?! Даже для взрослых мам это интересно! Спасибо из России ОГРОМНОЕ!!! Вы делаете нас счастливыми! TV Sims Machinima.
  • SimaniteSimanite Posts: 3,960 Member
    Весь Симс это шедевр! Аналогов которому никогда не будет. Я психолог и я в шоке! Единственное, что я задаю себе каждый день -Как? -Как Вы это делаете? Вы волшебники?! Даже для взрослых мам это интересно! Спасибо из России ОГРОМНОЕ!!! Вы делаете нас счастливыми! TV Sims Machinima.

    Greetings to Russia!
  • DominicLaurenceDominicLaurence Posts: 2,466 Member
    Interesting. It all just increased my love for Backyard Stuff, since I'm realizing now that it came with a lot of brand new objects, like the bird feeder (with birds), the 6 round table, the spinning flower and wind chimes, besides the water slice. (And my hope that we're getting more than one just single feature with the upcoming vote).

    So can I presume most of clutter can't just have mimics like the other objects? They're very different from each other in shape. And what about build mode items like wall paintings, floor tiles? We didn't vote for them amongst the objects, do they count as feature?
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