Archive for the ‘Setting the Scene’ Category

Seeing as Damien is stuck in prison for a while, I thought I would share with you the fun I had in creating… well, essentially, extras.  I had created so many cells and even if not all of them are seen, I still had a yard full of prisoners to fill… so, I was going to need extras, and lots of them!  All up, I could have up to 42 characters on the lot (although I tried to avoid this wherever possible) which was created with 5 prison families of 8 + the original Damien and Brad from the police station.  Rather than add them all to my family which I knew would lag my game completely and be unmanageable, I invited them each over individually and proceeded to make them selectable only when I needed them to perform specific actions or to set them in prison prior to filming.  Talk about a nightmare!  But I wanted authenticity.  Not to mention that when Damien arrives at prison, he is told of the immense overcrowding issues, so some cells had to be seen filled with 3 prisoners and additional mattresses including Brad’s cell so we know it’s not just a special case for them.  This meant I needed a lot of individualised sims.  I still reckon I could’ve doubled it to 80 characters.  But, you begin to run out of customising ideas when all your sims are wearing the same style clothing with very minor variations.  A few hair styles began doubling up (though never the same colour), and I didn’t particularly want to find two dozen more hairstyles for two dozen more sims that would only be seen for two seconds.  So, I tried to rotate around with what I had.

Majority of the sims went unamed as 7Prison3 and 2Prison5, except for the handful I named below.  A few had bruising, whilst 3 had tattoos.  Damien’s cellmate, Cormick, is the only inmate seen with piercings, which all up I wasn’t particularly happy about.  I can’t see that being an allowed policy in prison, and in the novel he is described as having “holes over his face” which Damien assumes are from the piercings.  I didn’t trust myself customising this kind of look without it going bad, so I just stuck with plain piercings.  Maybe he’s made them himself and is constantly getting in trouble for it, I don’t know.  I gotta say though, I was proud.  Managing to film with this many sims?  They deserved mug shots.  Who’s your favourite?

Not only did I create these billion prisoners, I then proceeded to make things even more difficult for myself – assign each of them cells that I would have to lead them to each time (or at least, with the same cellmates).  This is half the reason I did the mug shots – to make it easier to define who was in what cell.  Again… that’s 35 prisoners in a prison built to hold 180+ prisoners.  As I stated previously that the top cells were unfurnished, this meant they were all on the bottom floor, although for some of the shot’s, you’d never be able to tell, so they could just as easily be on the above floors and more spread out and I did this deliberately.

Don’t mind the pizza.  It was my replacement for the box of prison clothes Damien and Brad enter with. 😀

 

Go back to Part 2

Go back to Part 1

So that leaves us with the floor plan.  Considering how squishy squashed the bottom floor is, you’d think I’d have put more effort into the upper floors.  For my purposes though, this wasn’t necessary.  I had whole empty rooms upstairs I could have made use of = more content = more lag.  Although, I probably should’ve added a usable staff toilet somewhere on the lot O_o But oh well. 😛 (Excuses!  You just ran out of ideas, didn’t you??)

Hope you enjoyed the lengthy tour!  There weren’t any elevators either, sorry, so you’ll have to climb back down those 5 flights of stairs (we won’t even talk about them.  I spent a good 2 hours trying to do a 3×3 or 4×4 circular stair case going up 5 levels, but it was just never going to work… plus, it wouldn’t have had the landings on floors 2 and 3 to access the adjacent rooms.  Apparently, I can be very, very picky).  I would looovee some comments/feedback!  This lot took forever and for me, it was quite an achievement.

Go back to Part 1

The cells were a big, repetive task, as one would imagine.  They were all 3×4 and there were 15 cells along one wall.  That meant 30 cells on each of the 3 floors = 90 cells.  Each cell had a bed bunk which meant there was a minimum of 2 prisoners in each cell = 180 prisoners.  And there were half a dozen mattresses in overcrowded cells = capacity for many, many sims.  But alas, I cheated.  I only furnished the first floor.  The cells were made for the above floors, but no way was I going to continue placing the rest of the furniture which would only continue to lag my already laggy game.  Aside from that, I loved my cells, although they were partly decorative.  This is because none of the toilets are actually usable because the sink is in the way.  But that was okay for my purposes.  I had sim-actors, not sim prisoners 😉 The tables weren’t accessable to cells that had floor mattresses either.  It was just something you had to work around.  If you were to look at this in a real-world kind of view, a person would be able to squeeze past the sink to use the loo, and a person could stand or sit on a mattress to access the table, so I was happy to use them decoratively.  Trying to film sims sitting on bunks (and particularly top bunks) was a whole other kettle of fish and is something I’ll be glad to break from!

With a sinking realization, I was determined to have my showers adjacent to my cells, but alas, the space just wasn’t there.  I managed it, but there are only 12 showers.  These are invisible recolours of the maxis shower, so they still required 2 spaces for the opening of an invisible door to make them look like communal showers.  I believe they have a no-shoo mod, though I haven’t tested them yet.  Guess there will be many long line ups for the showers?

When inmates aren’t in their cells, they can usually be found in the yard.

Although they are given recreational time in which they can go to a rec room and watch TV, or go to a small classroom learning environment.  This is where Nick gives his talks with allowance from the prison counsellor and guards.

Beside this is the kitchen and dining hall.  The kitchen has a back door entry to allow working inmates to go in and cook up the food and easily transfer it to the cafeteria.  Unfortunately by this point I was running out of room, and I certainly couldn’t fit the amount of chairs and tables that would satisfy my bed capacity.

And if a sim were to get food poisioning, or fake illnesses or life threatening illnesses, or punches or just want to flirt with the nurse, there is a tiny medical clinic right at the front of the prison.  I was again running out of space for this, and determined not to have inmates looking out through the windows onto the road, so 2 halls were created which lessened the space considerably.  And besides that, they still had to walk past the hall with the windows to get to the rooms, but what more could I do?  It wasn’t largely important.

Also at the front of the prison was the visitor’s area.  This had the space for group meetings and isolated visits where the prisoner wasn’t to have contact with the visitor.  See that I was running out of space yet?

Yet the upper floors, like this employee lounge room, became considerably bare…

Continue to Part 3

This will be broken into 3 posts as there’s too many pictures.

I was expecting the prison to be big.  I wasn’t expecting it to be huge.  That said, it started on a 5×6 lot, ended up with 5 floors, 6 if you included the roof, and cost more than $400,000.  It was MASSIVE.  It was complete with 75 beds, although there was space for 180+.  I didn’t know there was a limit on the amount of walls you could use, until I hit it at 2100.  Thankfully, there was a solution thanks to Numenor’s unlevelled walls!  I only had a few more to go and I didn’t know what I’d do if I was stuck on the maxis limit.  It took hours to build and even longer to film.  I was originally planning on packaging the lot to share with you all, but at the moment I’m too scared to do that as it is huge, laggy, and is likely to start crashing games and what not.  That said, if someone wants to take the risk and test it out for me, let me know.

My inspiration?  Prison Break’s Fox River State Penitentiary.  Of course, it was on a much smaller scale, but you can see a slight resemblance?

In the process of building, I somehow accidentally deleted 1 tile of the road and I have no idea how I did it or how to fix it as I only noticed it towards the end (if anyone has a solution, please let me know!)  It was my first trial at making custom “curved” rooves (that indeed weren’t curved at all and I didn’t want them to be) though was disappointed to find the floor tiles on these rooves were uneditable so I got stuck with what I had.  Still, they didn’t look too bad considering the ages I spent on them.  Not only was it my first try at making them, I had 4 buildings close together which the rooves did not like and I constantly had to build and unbuild walls to make them work.  In the end, the tiles on both edges of one building remained flat, but not altogether a bad look.  Not noticeable from the top, anyway.

At the top corners were 4 guard towers, built higher than the rest of the prison.  On the far side these landed on cement roofing which looked really cool coupled with the barbed wire.

The view from the guard’s towers, as it so rightly should be, looked nicely onto the yard and rest of the prison.

The yard was perhaps bordering on small for the capacity of 180 sims, but then again, so was the rest of the lot and there wasn’t much I could do about it except try and make illusions to the eye.  Everything was carefully articulated.  Each path is bordered by barbed wire fencing and gates, making it (seemingly) impossible for sims to gain access to buildings they weren’t supposed to, while still making it all easily accessible (sort of).  To me, these little touches made it perfect.

Including an isolation block, or ad-seg, administrative-segregation, the hole, whatever you want to call it, which came complete with a miniature yard.  These are cordoned off, individual cells designed for inmates requiring protection from the general prison population, or vice versa.  Tiny 2×3 rooms which are cold, dark and pretty lonely.

Which is quite a different sight to the main prison block.  View from the second floor.

Continue to Part 2

Continue to Part 3

While preparing and filming Chapter 7, I noticed 3 mistakes.

– It wasn’t until I took the final family portrait photo that I noticed I’d given double-Ryan the wrong haircut.  The haircut in the pictures was the one I’d given him 3 years ago on first creation, and not the one that matched is son, Eric.  I always preferred this hair cut, but it wasn’t available for children.  So alas, think of photo-Ryan as a younger-Ryan.  This was fixed for the acting and as such is barely noticeable in a photo frame only glimpsed.

– I had planned to put its-been-a-long-day-I’m-exhausted-Ryan into pyjamas for this episode to match with Chelsea’s dull-grey-I’m-sad-and-can’t-sleep sweater.  I forgot.

– For Chapters 4 and 5 where Ryan is first seen, he isn’t wearing a wedding ring.  This is because I hadn’t yet created sim-Chelsea, and honestly, it wasn’t a thing I thought to consider.  He’ll wear it in all following episodes.

Right, now I’ve got that off my chest…

The Lewis family house took a while to plan out how I wanted it to look.  I had only ever envisioned 3 things in his house – Eric’s room, the set up of the hall with his room at one end and a study at the other, and the position of the sofa and TV in the lounge room.  So starting with that I then mapped out the whole house.  Again, very, very silly of me, as most of the house isn’t seen and as far as I can tell, it’ll only be featured in 2 more episodes at a later date.  But it was pretty.  I liked it.  The front of it anyway.  Admittedly, I did only furnish it very basically in most of the rooms as they aren’t seen, but they were still all there.  Eric’s room was wallpapered in a lovely bright blue – with bordering police checkers at the top – an indication of pure pride in his father.

But I really loved how the kitchen turned out.  It was just so… yummy.  Most of my sim-kitchens are horrible, so this one paid off!  Simple.  Effective.

And apparently, I got carried away as photographer.

The final portrait with fixed haircut.

Chapters 5 and 6 look pretty bland on the colour palette.  That’s not to say they aren’t exciting, but it isn’t a very inviting place.  Damien finds himself being questioned at the local police station in Hillview.  The set was not as simple as it looked, because while Chapter 5 you may only see a tiny little blank interview room, around it I had created the whole station – which should hopefully be featured in later upcoming chapters, so hopefully it wasn’t an entire waste!  I was very proud with what I eventually came up with, so I thought I would share with you some photos of the whole lot.

It is 2 floors, although admittedly I haven’t done anything with the second floor just yet, but it will have a small tea room surrounded by many indivual offices… and well, anything else I can come up with.  The station was inspired by the one seen in Australia’s police drama, Rush.  It is depicted in greys and it’s a very kind of dull-looking place to be, which is evened out by the extra excitement of day to day activities.  Although you may see a few of the rooms on the show, it was all very much guesswork , especially the floor layout.  The sign was a recolour of MogHughson’s Illuminated Shop Sign, and the 1-wall column logo thing were both modelled off the police stations we have over here.  I seem to have misplaced my original reference picture, but here’s another for the wall.  So that was a really simple wallpaper to recolour, and is only intended to be 1-wall length.

Front entrance (apparently I need to do something about the neighbouring hill O_o) with red poppies and decorative park spaces.

Side/workers entrance (which is really the front, hence vehicles can enter driveway.  This area has been left open because I couldn’t see cop’s opening and closing garage doors everytime they had to rush out, although this leaves your visitors wandering up hallways and ringing doorbells at the main work area.  There are two park spaces for drivable cars, the rest are model cars).

Gym/relax area

Briefing room

Lineup and viewing room

Interview room

Holding cells (as these are only meant as temporary means, individual cells do not contain toliets).

Main work/collaborative area with individual desks and one big work station (again inspired by Rush).

Overview

It’s not bad if I do say so myself… I tried and tried to fit everything in nicely and as logically as possible.  I couldn’t see suspects being dragged into cells or interview rooms that were on the second floor, and I really wanted a large open work area, along with the garage and… well, everything else.  It is my most expensive lot to date (that said, I haven’t really made all that many lots) and will consider making it available to download if there’s any interest. 🙂 Once again, wouldn’t be possible without all the lovely custom content available from Mod the Sims, etc.  Thank you!

The thing about the park, or Wyatt Reserve as it’s so named, is that it was built on the edge of a cliff.  I can’t remember why exactly I chose it to back onto the side of a mountain, possibly because I wanted a lot already slightly built up that I could work from because I knew this lot was going to have a hill, and perhaps because the suburb is called Hillview.  Whatever it was, the lot was certainly built up, and I spent forever trying to get the right look to the ground levelling and putting in the right heights.

Once I had my park looking how I wanted it ready for when Damien arrived on the scene, I then altered it to fit in the extras, and change around the scenery to look like it was in a different section of the park.  People are seen playing and talking, and people are seen leaving.  This was to indicate it was late in the day (getting on 5.30pm) and people were leaving for home.  This was filmed and undone, so I was back to my clean slate for Damien’s arrival with his beloved friend and companion, Pepper.  He is seen wearing the same clothes he wore in Chapter 1, also indicating it is the same afternoon, after he’s finished up at school with his teaching.  There were 2 extras – a mother and daughter – that didn’t make it to filming as pictured below.

All the sims were given a cosy little area in which they could do whatever they liked (had I given them the chance to do so.  Gotta love turning off their freewill).

This was hidden underground, which comes to my proud creation of: a fake road.

In the story, Damien wanders off the usual path and down a hill, following the sounds of a young child screaming and angered voices.  He hides in the cover of the trees, looking out onto the situation as it unfolds.  The boy is being held against the inside wall of a large (unused?) drain pipe, which creates a tunnel under the road.  I tried and failed to find a rounded door, wall or archway compatible with my game, and so contented with a rather broken, corroded looking one.  It is a tell-tale point that is part of the park isn’t one usually ventured upon by the public.  It is dirty, it has grafitti on the inside and some leftover pipes.

The drain itself is pretty dry, it’s bottom covered in pebbles and just a thin trickle of dirty water which blends into nothing.

But I was most worried about the road.  The cars needed to be seen arriving on top of the fake road, so the police could jump down off the little edge and race down the hill to confront Damien.  Sims can’t drive on fake roads.  And they certainly can’t leap off the ledge of a wall.  So I used an obstacle course animation and I put in some decorative cars.  And started on a second lot – making sure it also backed onto the side of a mountain – so I could film cars entering and leaving the lot, and make it look like they were using the fake road atop the drain.  Pretty tricky stuff!  This is why you see the cars arriving with lights and flashing sirens (after quite a number of prank calls to the cops) and upon confrontation, all lights go off.  This is because the prop cars didn’t have working sirens (okay.  So my sims like to save power.  They aren’t in the cars anymore, of course they’ll want to turn off all the lights).  They are then seen leaving with lights, but no sirens (they’ve caught the culprit, there’s no rush anymore ;)) and this is thanks to the driveable cop car from VampCat.  And the biggest thanks to Maxis and Numenor’s game add-on: Drivable Cars without Nightlife.

I also fell in love with these trees which suited my needs perfectly – large trees, close proximity – hide n seek in the forest!

 Although I assure you, usually the park is a pleasant place to be.  Damien and Pepper spend many afternoons there, just enjoying each others company.