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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Parkaboy's building class: lesson 2

As I've said on the previous post, this is the "class" I'm teaching at the University of Spore Creations forums. Here goes the second lesson:

LESSON 2: On styles,

symmetry and the basic building shape

Let's move on! The main reference for this lesson is going to be this set, the Logian set:

Shall we start?

First of all, I must confess something. I'm an advocate of what I call "playable content". That means I like the content in my galaxy to make sense in the logic of the game. I usually only download creatures that look like creatures, buildings that look like buildings, and so on. I know there's a lot of laughter on flying around in a UFO shaped like a wheelchair, but I'm a sci-fi fan and I like to keep the nonsense to a minimum.

That also mean I worry a bit about stuff like scale. I usually do this: whenever I create a new set of buildings, I test it on a saved game (on Civ or Space Stage), and check if the average creature could actually fit in those buildings, as well as how the set fits together. When making matching sets, this is very useful, so test before uploading (you don't even have to save the game, after all)!

Creating Matching Sets:
Well, there's at least four things I take into account when making a set:
1- Try to use the same style of parts on all buildings (we'll se more details on that below);
2- Try to use the same textures and colors, or use the "Paint Like" option;
3- Try to keep some variation. Use variations of the same shapes, or add specific details so we can tell the buildings apart, such as chimneys for factories;
4- Try to organize the buildings according to size. This depends on how you usually create the layout of your city, but the average Spore city will look better if the center buildings are taller than the peripheral ones. The City Hall is always in the center, so it should be taller. I normally put factories and entertainment in the middle and houses around the rim, so the houses should be shorter.

Certain parts fit better together; a certain door is a better match for certain windows than others, for instance. Pay attention to the details on each part: some are kind of medieval, others are futuristic. Here are some examples:

If you can't see it on the thumbnail, open it on the editor. There are many good combinations, so trust your gut. If you use the same types of parts for the entire set, you will increase the chance that the game will recognize those buildings as a set and use them together for NPC races (Matching colors and textures also help). Symmetry Notice the how the examples above are uninteresting as buildings. Well, they could look slightly better if I placed more details on the other faces, and not only in the front. This is very important when making City Halls; you don't want the centerpiece of your city to look dull from some angles. There are 3 main types of symmetry you should use:

The first one has equal opposite sides, meaning it has two types of faces. The second one has the front equal to the back, but different sides; it could also have equal sides, but the front different from the back; it has 3 types of faces. The third has only one type of face, meaning all of them are equal. All three types can be good choices, if you keep the building balanced. A version with four different faces is not recommended; usually it won't look good. It's not hard to make equal opposite sides, since parts like doors and window will "snap" to the opposite side of an already placed part, neatly aligned. The basic building shape: A good, conventional building often has 3 parts: a base, a "body" and a roof. You don't literally have to use roof parts to make a roof, for instance, but adding some details to the top of your building will improve it's appearance. The shape we were using in this class is kind of dull, though:

Of course some body parts or blocks are more detailed than this simple cubic shape. But we can make more interesting shapes if we don't stick with only a single block for the body. If you use several blocks of different heights and lenghts, and align them on the center of the original block, you can make something like this:

Looks already a bit better, doesn't it? You can improve it by using different types of blocks, though simpler ones are more easily combined. Just remember that the prettier buildings in real life aren't cubes. The building will look even better when windows and details are placed. But you can also use stacked blocks as pseudo windows (see the red parts on the picture below), just remember to use the "Ctrl" key for more control:

That's it for now!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theme Set: Andeavor's Great Wall

In a couple of months the Galactic Adventures will be released, and players will have acess to the Adventure editor, wich allows you to place, resize and rotate any creation in scenarios called "adventure planets". That means creators can create complex structures - such as long walls - by combining buildings together. Andeavor's Great Wall is one of the best examples of the props being created in advance by the community. Check it out, end click the thumbnails for Sporepedia links:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Creator Tip: the GAprop tag

Like many users, I was worried myself that the creations made for exclusive purposes on the upcoming Galactic Adventures expansion pack - like walls and other decorations created for the user-made adventures - would be selected by mistake as buildings and vehicles for the civ and space stages.

However, MaxisCactus just answered that concern:

"Our team has taken measures to resolve this issue.

When you create a galactic adventure prop, you can tag it “GAprop” before publishing. This will prevent it from being chosen in the core game for any slot.

This way, canonical creations (such as realistic factories) made in Galactic Adventures can still appear in other players’ core games’ appropriate slots, but players will have the option to exempt their more zany prop creations by simply tagging them using this convention.


Source: Sporedum

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Parkaboy's building class: lesson 1

I've been teaching this "class" on creating buildings at the Sporeuni forums, and I thought I should post those tips here too. So I'll be slowly publishing the lessons on the blog, too.

LESSON 1: Review

In this lesson we are going to review some basic features. It may not seem much, but will be enough to allow an inexperienced creator to make a set such as this:

Advanced Part Handles:
Hold down the "tab" key with a part selected. That will show more handlers that allow you to rotate or distort the part.

Copying Parts:
Click on an existing part while holding the "Alt" key, and drag the copy to another spot. Some parts can be copied to the same spot, and you can then rotate the copy to create some nice symmetric forms.

Directional Placement:
Hold the "Ctrl" key to move a part in a vertical axis (up and down, even hovering in thin air or underground - see the image 1 below) or hold the "Shift" key to move a part in a horizontal plane (see image 2).

In the "Paint Mode", holding "Alt" lets you copy the texture style and colors of a part; holding "Shift" lets you paint an entire part with a single click, and holding "Ctrl" lets you paint the same feature of a part on all of those parts that exist.

Also, you can import textures from the vehicle creator by using the "Paint Like" option.

Most parts - as well as the very base where we build in the editor - have an useful characteristic: snapping points. They work like this: parts tend to "snap" to a point located on the center of a part's "face" or the editor base; also, if you place a part on the base or on another part's face, other parts will tend to align with it. Check the image 3 below. If you place a part in a spot (let's say, that part "a"), it's as if other parts will be attracted (and will "snap") to imaginary lines crossing the center of the original part.

This feature is useful to align windows in a building side, for instance. If you want to place a part in a specific point and the "snapping" is getting in the way, use the "Ctrl" and "Shift" keys; parts don't "snap" when you're holding those keys.

I know this is a very basic lesson, but I felt this review was necessary, to allow less experienced creators to get up to speed. In the next lesson, I'll share a few "secrets". See ya!