3D Graphics in The Sims 2
the Isometric View
In The Sims, an object on the screen appears to be the same size no matter how far away it is. This is an isometric view. This viewpoint had distinct advantages when we had slower computers and no graphics cards. It allowed for using sprites and z-buffers on a fixed grid to save CPU time.
The 3D world of The Sims 2 takes advantage of some rather dramatic advances in computer technology to provide a full perspective view.
Perspective means there is a distinct vanishing point and horizon. Objects in the foreground are larger than those farther away and straight lines converge on the vanishing point. This gives us a more natural scene since it's the way we see things in real life.
For example, compare the height of the lady playing golf in the screen shot at the top of this page to the height of the tangoing tankinied teen-ager. Here are the same two figures shown at the same scale (with a little bit of Photoshoppery to fill in the blanks).
This will not have much effect on an object creator. One of the major challenges we faced with The Sims was getting rid of the perspective view when adapting photographs to objects for the game. We still have the same problem with The Sims 2, except that with the new views available to the user an object that shows some perspective in one view will go from looking a little odd to looking totally out of place.
Mostly this means that if you want an object with cubby holes or views into another room, you have to create the 3D object and the texture that maps onto it.
One fan artist's trick will be much more difficult when making things for The Sims 2: it will be almost impossible to pilfer patterns from screen shots. The lines in that lovely wooden deck are no longer parallel, and the pattern gets much smaller as things get farther away.
You can see this phenomenon in the image at the left. It shows that same deck near the juggling bartender at the top and near the hot tub at the bottom.
(Even without perspective issues, lighting effects would thwart pattern pilfering. Shading and shadows vary all across a horizontal surface depending on where the light is coming from and how bright it is.)
The good news is that the patterns will be much better behaved in the textures that get mapped into the scene, so instead of going after the screen shot, look for patterns in the texture files that go with the objects.