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Converting Google Earth Buildings to Sims 3 CAW Deco Objects

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tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
I am starting work on my Rain City world (Seattle, WA). I would like to include a few landmarks like the Space Needle and Columbia Tower.

Space+Needle.jpg

Has anyone figured out how to convert Google Earth models into Sims 3 models? I don't believe these models are copyrighted.

I know the following:

1. The KMZ format the modles in the Google warehouse is just a zip file. If the extention is changed from KMZ to zip, the file can be unzipped.

2. The Collada format (DAE) can be converted into an OBJ or 3DS file using the FBX converter. http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/fbx200611_2_converter_win.exe

3. However, when I load the OBJ (or 3DS, DFX, or FBX) file into Milkshape, I don't get anythng which looks like a building -- a few random lines in a couple of of the projections, but nothing like a completed model.

I could probably make many decorative skyscraper models by simply creating a box in Milkshape and plastering a photo image on it. However, in making Rain City (Seattle), I would like to use a couple of the local landmarks like the Space Needle and the Columbia Towers. These buildings are a little more complex than a simple box.

Comments

  • DocsprockDocsprock Posts: 3,861 Member
    edited December 2010
    Waaaaay over my head. :(
  • CoasterboiCoasterboi Posts: 301 New Member
    edited January 2011
    I've actually, believe it or not, done this before, but it was Sims 2 neighborhood decorations. It was so long ago, so I'm not much help with the process but it can be done. I don't see how sims 2 or 3 would make much difference - I used simpe and milkshape, and I think Google's 3d building tool, whatever it was called.

    I even converted 3d files from GTA San Andreas and imported those into Sims2!

    This was a Los Angeles inspired (what else? ;)) 'downtown' neighborhood I made in Sims 2..unlreleased and unretrieveable. (It doesn't exist anymore).
    th_snapshot_00000012_35a10f6c.jpg
  • simsamplesimsample Posts: 987 Member
    edited January 2011
    If you can figure out how to make it into a game object, then it's easy to get into CAW:
    http://www.simswiki.info/wiki.php?title=Sims_3:0x319E4F1D#Showing_Objects_In_World_Editor_and_Create-a-World_Catalog
    I will choose a path that's clear- I will choose free will
    RUSH
    My Worlds
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited January 2011
    Well, I found that the conversion sort of worked after all. It's just that the building (I was trying the Columbia Center in Seattle) was about 100 times larger than a sim object. Also, the mesh comes in many tiny pieces which will make rescaling and UV texturing a real project.

    Columbia+Tower.jpg

    Ultimately, I think it would be nice to import items like this as either decorative items or as shells for buildings -- like the pyramids:

    Church+of+the+Savior+of+Spilt+Blood.jpg

    [No, it's not St. Basils's in Moscow, but the Church of the Savior of the Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg -- on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.]
  • Brutalkid12Brutalkid12 Posts: 238 Member
    edited January 2011
    There made in google Sketchup so if its possible to put Sketchup items in the sims then WOOT :D
  • WolfieWolfie Posts: 2,557
    edited February 2011
    Sorry about bumping this thread, as it's a bit old, but I'd be interested in having the Space Needle as an object in my game. :lol: OP, any progress on this? I see Rain City's long been abandoned. :( If you've managed to create the landmark, I'd download it! :thumbup:
  • scot954scot954 Posts: 205 New Member
    edited June 2011
    i want that st. ptersburg church ! did you managed to convert it?
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited July 2011
    Slowly but surely, I think I am figuring this out. I managed to get a fully textured sketchup model of 2 Union Square in Seattle into Milkshape, after converting the Collada format into 3ds (Autocad). The 3ds format seems to work better than FBX or Obj files.

    Two+Union+Square+Sketchup.jpg

    When you convert, you get the mesh and the textures. You have to rescale the mesh in Milkshape by something like 0.043 (rough guess). The texture files are not usable in the Sims game, so it will be necessary to make a new texture file and to redo the UV mapping.

    One of the problems with larger buildings is that the texture files tend to be larger than those typically used in the sims -- say 5000 pixels on a side. I don't know how well a texture like this would work.

    More experimentation needs to be done. But I am pretty confident that it can be done. I hope to have a converted Sketchup building by the end of the week.
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited July 2011
    I think the implications of this for city builders is pretty significant. From what I have seen, many cities tend to use the same EA shells over and over again. This typically requires the use of lots, which may or may not contribute to lag.

    Also, it appears that worlds with hundreds of lots have a nasty habit of crashing when one tries to load them, or having error 12 and 13 errors when trying to save.

    Imagine being able to pull just about any skyscraper located in the world, and being able to put a full scale version in your city, with relatively little work. These models are relatively low poly, but can have pretty nice textures.

    Eventually we might see the Burg Dubai in some desert world!
  • mikitta47mikitta47 Posts: 2,250 New Member
    edited July 2011
    I wonder if you could take landscape from Google Earth using the same process and convert it into distant terrain ...

    God Bless,
    mik
  • clubersclubers Posts: 7,958 Member
    edited October 2011
    Any progress?
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited October 2011
    Actually, I am going to start a few new experiments.

    I have learned how to convert X-Plane files into Sims 3 files. It's actually a pretty simple process.

    I also have learned how to convert Microsoft Flight Simulator files to X-Plane files.

    2.jpg
    London in Microsoft Flight Simulator

    This is significant because there are entire cities which have been done in 3d for these two flight simulators. London, New York, Paris all exist as 3d models and can be converted.

    Trump+Downtown.jpg
    The Trump Downtown Tower (left)(My own Simlumbia Tower is to the right)

    Plus, there are hundreds and hundreds of other models which can be converted. If you check my G-Rated blog, http://tjstreaksnotsonaughtysims.blogspot.com/, you can see where I have been keeping myself quite busy by converting vehicles, aircraft, boats, factories, commercial buildings, houses, skyscrapers and animals (moose) to Sims 3 files.

    Alaska+Airlines+737+Takeoff+1.jpg
    An Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Boing Field next to the Boing Flying Machine Company.

    In some cases, the textures need work. For examle, I think Manustyle may be fixing some of my NY skyscraper conversion textures.

    But here's the kicker, it is possible to convert sketchup files into X-Plane files. It can be involved, but this video seems to outline part of the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL0aGLLwx1I&feature=player_embedded#! If you can get the file into X-Plane format, you can convert it into Sims 3 format.

    But I have been so busy just converting x-plane stuff, that I have not fooled around with converting Sketchup yet. I've done chunks of the Boeing plant for Rain City, added airliners like the 737, 747, and 757, have F-15s on my air force base, a Concorde on display at the aircraft factory, a crop duster for the farms, a helicopter for the hospital (Have you noticed that the hospital does have a rudimentary heliport on it?), a floatplain on one of my lakes, a yacht on my big lake, and a waterskier. I also can stick moose and bears in my forested area.

    Industrial+3.jpg
    Aircraft being built

    Screenshot+1.jpg
    Concorde

    Also, since terrain items are objects, it should be possible to pull them out as well. For example, there are models of Mt. Ranier (which is of interest to me.) But the Google elevation data is just that. I have not developed a conversion yet, but it should be doable.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • clubersclubers Posts: 7,958 Member
    edited October 2011
    NICE! So you should be able to convert something like a mountain into distant terrain?
  • bunbunnynybunbunnyny Posts: 3,678 Member
    edited October 2011
    Next step: Can you turn the skyscrapers into working highrises (might need SimSample's help!:lol: )?

    And then: Can you write a tutorial? You have to!
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited October 2011
    clubers wrote:
    NICE! So you should be able to convert something like a mountain into distant terrain?

    Exactly!

    I made custom distant terrain for my world. This means that I did not fit my world to the distant terrain, but the distant terrain to my world.

    This distant terrain also has a huge mountain: Mt. Rainey. You can see it in the distance in the picture below:

    Mt+Rainey+from+Downtown.jpg

    To give you some idea of just how large that mountain is, it is the size of a medium sized world. It is the size of Sunset Valley, which is a large world which has 3/4 of it covered by distant terrain. The picture below shows the relative size of my world and the mountain in the distant terrain:

    View%2Bfrom%2BMilkshape%2B2.jpg
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited October 2011
    bunbunnyny wrote:
    Next step: Can you turn the skyscrapers into working highrises (might need SimSample's help!:lol: )?

    Not yet. Although I suspect it can be done. My buildings are just shells. In fact, sims walk right through them as if they are not there, which does not bother me -- no routing problems!

    But I see no reason why they cannot serve as shells. I have already experimented with turning them into rabbit holes with success. In fact, I would like to turn the Goldman Sachs skyscraper into a criminal rabbithole.

    Goldman+Sachs.jpg
    Goldman Sachs

    Of course, I will have to resize it so it fits on a lot!

    However, I suspect that the highrise just is a number somewhere in the file. Maybe on of the slots? But someone who know more about slot placement than I will probably have to help out.

    But it would be nice to have a penthouse on, say, the 76th floor, rather than on the 15th as we get with the EA highrises.

    As for a lesson, I will do one after I perfect the conversions. Currently, I do have a lesson on making simple deco buildings. These are textured cubes. However, cubes are the building blocks from which you build just about everything else.
  • clubersclubers Posts: 7,958 Member
    edited December 2011
    bunbunnyny wrote:
    Next step: Can you turn the skyscrapers into working highrises (might need SimSample's help!:lol: )?

    I think I know a person who knows how to do that, or at least knows another person who knows how to do that...

    Tjstreak, are you ready to make a tutorial on the sims 3 threads? Or have you already made one...

    P.S. I looked at that photo so many times, and I have only just noticed the subway.
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited December 2011
    clubers wrote:
    Tjstreak, are you ready to make a tutorial on the sims 3 threads? Or have you already made one...

    I have not even made a lesson on my own blog for this! Lately I have been converting buildings from flight simulators to Sims 3. Primarily this means converting buildings from Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Planes. There are literally thousands of items in these two flight simulators alone, including the entire cities of Manhattan, London, Paris, and Venice. And huge chunks of cities like Indianapolis, Cleveland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, Las Vegas and Seattle. (And lots of European cities as well, but those don't interest me all that much.)

    There is a freeware program floating around the flight simulator community called, appropriately, Model Converter which converts models from Microsoft's BGL and MDL files, and X-Planes OBJ files to Autodesk's 3ds files or to OBJ files -- both standard formats which can be imported into Milkshape and converted into wso format. It can be found at scenerydesign.org

    The only trick here is that you have to flip the texture files along their vertical axis to make them look right.

    If you don't know what I am talking about, this may be too advanced for you. But if you do know what I am talking about, then you undestand that converting a building can be done in 10 minutes or less. The time comsuming part is sifting through the thousands of models to find the one you want to convert. (I am still looking for the roller coaster in San Diego.)

    But there, in a nutshell, is how you do it.

    By the way, the flight simulator gamers have figured out how to convert Sketchup files and there are a number of tutorials on doing this on some of the flight simulator sites. In fact, the Model Converter will do a basic job of doing this and even reduce the number of meshgroups. But still there is a lot of preparatory work to be done in Sketchup itself. Once converted into a flight simulator file, it is a simple matter to convert it into a Sims file.

    clubers wrote:
    P.S. I looked at that photo so many times, and I have only just noticed the subway.

    I have not converted Goldman Sachs yet. It's a New York building, so it's not a high priority for me. Although Daniel who is working on the New York world might appreciate it. Quite a few of my buildings are in his New York world.

    However, I do have a McDonalds as a work in progress which I have been testing in Apaloosa Springs. Also, earlier, I made one of the buildings on my Boing Flying Machine Company into a science building. But I have not worked on this for a while. I probably will make two custom rabbitholes: a business office and a science lab.

    Boing+Rabbithole+Screenshot+3.jpg
  • henry7890henry7890 Posts: 272
    edited December 2011
    you are a genius, and these buildings are amazing
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited December 2011
    Before making a tutorial, I want to do a few experiments in making night textures. This means that the buildings will appear at night with lighted windows and the like. To date, my buildings only really work in the day.

    If I am successful, I will have to go back and retrofit all of my buildings with night lighting.

    I think I know how to do it. But I need to experiment for a while.
  • nativeofnynativeofny Posts: 66
    edited December 2011
    This is AMAZING. Just the kind of thing I needed for a world I'm creating. Have you made the World Trade Center's Twin Towers? I really really want those in my neighborhood badly.
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited December 2011
    nativeofny wrote:
    This is AMAZING. Just the kind of thing I needed for a world I'm creating. Have you made the World Trade Center's Twin Towers? I really really want those in my neighborhood badly.

    Before 9/11?

    I think one of the post 9/11 towers is finished.

    Since I am converting flight simulator files, I can check to see if they are there.
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited December 2011
    WTC+Screenshot.jpg

    Is this what you had in mind?

    Actually it was a pretty simple project. Basically two very large textured cubes. I filched the texture from a Google Earth building by taking a screenshot of the building in Sketchup.

    Sketchup is such a weird program. Typically it will do 100 polygons when only one is needed. Sometimes it makes more sense just to take a screenshot of a building and recreate the mesh from scratch. This is one of those cases.

    I would note that the Sketchup model had a lot more detail on the roof. However, the roofs of supertall buildings in the Sims 3 are really hard to see. Most of the time, we do not look at these buildings from the top down, but from a sims eye version looking up:

    WTC+Screenshot+2.jpg

    I have at at my nice blog: http://tjstreaksnotsonaughtysims.blogspot.com/2011/12/world-trade-center.html
  • dramaqueenlpdramaqueenlp Posts: 889 New Member
    edited December 2011
    You mentioned custom rabbit holes... Is there a tutorial anywhere for how to do that?
  • tjstreaktjstreak Posts: 808 Member
    edited December 2011
    You mentioned custom rabbit holes... Is there a tutorial anywhere for how to do that?

    Not that I am aware of. I suspect if there were, we would be seeing more custom rabbitholes.

    Basically, you clone the rabbithole you want and replace the mesh. Usually, you have to delete a bunch of mesh groups. An EA rabbithole may have 20+ meshgroups. Mine typically have one.

    The process is not all that different from doing a recolor of a rabbithole. Instead of replacing just the texture, you replace both the texture and the mesh. In my case, the mesh and texture is far more simple than the one being replaced.

    I am still in the experimental stage.
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