Ocean Quigley, the Art Director for Spore has shared with us more of his projects from his past time working on both The Sims 2 and SimCity 4. Credit goes to InfiniteSims for the find!
SimCity 4 had this neat feature (put in by Paul Pedriana) where you could have the game advance a single frame and save a screencapture, advance another frame and save a screencapture and so on.
It let me make little movies of the game as I was working on it, without skipping any frames, which was impressive for the time.
Here’s one movie that I captured while authoring an aerobatic flying team for the game:
The airplane movement is all scripted with Andrew’s particle system, which means that there’s really no flight model there at all! Just particles attracting and repelling each other, and chasing the lead particle. It was pretty sweet! I could even have them explode if they got too close to each other or hit the ground.
The camera was just another particle parented to the lead jet.
I used that system in all sorts of unlikely ways. I think the coolest use was for the soccer games in the stadium. Eventually you’d notice that the team’s behaviour was a bit odd for soccer, but it held up to a cursory viewing.
The Sims 2 – Stairs
Here’s a design visualization I did for the Sims2 while trying to figure out how stairs should work.
It’s done in my favorite design tool, Maya. Doing visualizations like this is a great design practice for a few reasons.
First, it forces me to think through exactly how a system is supposed to work, step by step. So when eventually I ask an engineer to implement it in code, I’ve got a clear idea of what I’m asking for.
Second it’s way of expressing the problem to the other people who might care about it (designers, producers, engineers). And if it’s a good visualization, it makes the problem (and hopefully the solution) clear to everybody.