Tutorials

Seasonal Trees for TS2

By Raynuss


This tutorial covers how to create trees, shrubs and flowers that change with the seasons and drop their leaves in the fall.  It does not cover the routine steps of creating an object or mesh editing.  

In order to use this tutorial you must have previous knowledge of:

1. How to use SimPE Object Workshop
2. How to clone an object in SimPe
3. How to register in the GUID database and get a GUID for your object
4. How to make a mesh in a 3D program and ensure it has the right dimensions
5. How to map your mesh
6. How to make a texture for your object including alpha layers

If you do not have the required prerequisites, I suggest you visit MTS's Creation site and go to the TS2 Tutorial section and download and study the necessary tutorials before proceeding.

To begin, download the file Seasonal Trees Tutorial.rar at the end of this post.  It contains a copy of these instructions in .txt and Microsoft Word format plus two .package files: RDN_Seasons_Tutorial_2Subsets.package and RDN_Seasons_Tutorial_1Subset.packageDO NOT place these two package files in your game.  I repeat, DO NOT place these two package files in your game.  They will seriously bork your game.  Place them in a safe place to be used later.  These are templates I created that you will use to clone your seasonal trees, bushes and plants.

Every seasonal plant has up to 6 states, summer, spring, fall, winter bare, winter light snow and winter heavy snow.  Each state has a mesh and an associated texture or textures.  We'll start with the meshes.  In most cases you'll need, at the most,  two different meshes, one in full foliage for summer, spring and fall states and one bare branch for winter, winter light snow and winter thick snow states.  The difference in seasonal appearance is accomplished by applying different textures for each seasonal change.

The supplied templates are of two varieties.  RDN_Seasons_Tutorial_1Subset.package is used when the foliage and the tree trunk are one subset.  RDN_Seasons_Tutorial_2Subsets.package is used when the foliage and the tree trunk are two separate subsets.  I'll be using the two-subset template in this tutorial, but the procedure is almost the same for the single subset template.

Making the Textures:

For this tutorial, I am assuming that you will use a separate texture for the foliage and the wood.  Each seasonal change requires a different texture.  Some creators choose to use the summer texture for both spring and summer seasons.  I always make separate textures for spring and summer simply because I've never seen a tree that looks the same in both seasons whether it flowers or not.  I just make the spring foliage texture a lighter shade of green and the summer foliage texture a deeper green.  For fall, I make the foliage shades of red, orange and yellow.  For the winter bare branch textures, just make an invisible recolor for the foliage.  For the winter light snow and winter thick snow, create textures with invisible foliage and give the trunk wood texture the appearance of light and heavy snow.  I do this by using the spraycan tool and apply a separate layer of white over the wood texture.  I then adjust the layer by using combinations of multiply, overlay, burn and screen to achieve the desired look.  You'll have to experiment in your painting program here.  You just need to end up with one texture that has light snow on the tree bark and one that has heavy snow.  When completed, you should have nine different texture files.

Summer foliage
Spring foliage
Fall foliage
Winter light snow foliage
Winter thick snow foliage
Summer wood
Winter bare wood
Winter light snow wood
Winter thick snow wood

Writing a tutorial for seasonal plants with two subsets is difficult because of the varied way the textures can be set up.  The foliage and the wood can be incorporated into a single texture, or there may be one texture for the wood and one for the foliage.  If both foliage and wood textures are combined, parts of the texture can be made invisible via an alpha layer so only the wood or foliage is seen.  I've made the template so the Material Definitions are set up to call only those parts of the texture that are needed for each season.  That's why there are two textures for winter foliage. 
This method assured that all situations are covered.  

The Mesh:

When I create a mesh for seasonal plants, I prefer to make them with the trunk and the foliage as two separate groups, then if I want to make trees with less dense foliage for different seasons, it's easier to do if the foliage is a separate group from the trunk.  This is just my preference.  How you want to make the mesh is your choice.  If you're using a pre-made mesh, you'll have to prepare it by resizing and relocating it in your mesh program.  At any rate, for this tutorial, you'll need at least two meshes, one in full foliage and one bare branch.  Once you have your meshes ready, it's time to work with the templates.

Creating the Package:

Open SimPe.  Open Object Workshop and make a clone of RDN_Seasons_Tutorial_2Subsets.package.  Rename the "ModelName" and click "Update", then "OK".  Give your new package a unique name.  When SimPe displays your package, click on the "Plugin View".

In the Resource Tree, Click on "Object Data".  Rename the Filename and click "Commit".  Get a new GUID, update all MMAT's and commit.  At this point I always perform a "Fix Integrity" and "Save".

Importing the Textures: 

Click on "Texture Image (TXTR)" in the Resourse Tree.  You'll find 10 entries under the Resource List.  You're going to replace 9 of them with the seasonal textures you prepared above.

seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-fall_txtr - import your fall foliage texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-spring_txtr - import your spring foliage texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-summer_txtr - import your summer foliage texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-summerbark_txtr - import your summer wood texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-winterbare_txtr - import your winter bare branch texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-winterltsnow_txtr - import your winter light snow foliage texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-winterltsnowbark_txtr - import your winter light snow wood texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-winterthicksnow_txtr - import your winter thick snow foliage texture
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-b3130]-winterthicksnowbark_txtr - import your winter thick snow wood texture

Be sure to "Update all sizes" and "Commit" after importing each texture.  "Save".

Importing the Meshes:

In the Resource Tree, Click on "Geometric Data Container (GMDC)".  You'll find 6 entries in the Resource List.

seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]_tslocator_gmdc - import your summer mesh
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]swx01_tslocator_gmdc - import your spring mesh
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]swx03_tslocator_gmdc - import your fall mesh
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]swx04_tslocator_gmdc - import your winter bare branch mesh
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]swx05_tslocator_gmdc - import your winter light snow mesh
seasonaltreetutorial2-[raynuss-26.8.2012-c1720]swx06_tslocator_gmdc - import your winter heavy snow mesh

In most cases, the mesh for summer spring and fall will be the same mesh (tree in full foliage) and the mesh for the three winter states will be the same mesh (bare branch tree - no foliage).  If your mesh has only one subset, the same mesh will be used for all states.

In the Mesh Group Importer, select "Replace" as the action for both subsets.  Be sure to "Commit" after importing each mesh.

Do one more "Fix Integrity" and "Save".

Now check to see that you've done everything right by opening each gmdc and clicking on "Preview".  If you see your tree with the proper seasonal textures in each gmdc, you've done everything right.  Give yourself a big pat on the back!

You can use this template to make seasonal bushes and flowers too.  However you need to take one more step.  To satisfy the "Buy a shrub" or Buy a flower" wants you need to do the following:

In the Resource Tree, click on "Object Data(OBJD)" and then on the entry in the Resource List.  Click on the "Raw Data" tab and then the "Decimal" button.  Scroll down the list to heading "10 Memories and Wants".

Make the following changes to line 0x002F: Want Category:

For trees use decimal value        10050
For shrubs use decimal value     10051
For flowers use decimal value    10052

"Commit" and "Save".

To test the tree in-game, I use SimWardrobe's Seasons and Weather Controller.  It's the easiest way I know to change the seasons and weather with a single click.  You can get it at http://www.simwardrobe.com.  It's located under Sims2 Objects - Other Objects.

If you have any problems, please let me know. 

Ray :)
















 



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