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Tips for the beginning Building Architecter #0623
Updated: 12/3/00 OS/platforms(s): All Versions: All

Contributor/author(s): Bruce Klaiss

For newcomers to the Building Architect Tool or BA Plus, the construction section of this little jewel may seem intimidating... not to mention frustrating. For me, the difficulties have been that the cursor is hard to control unless you have a steady hand, and getting the vertical proportions / perspective of the work straight.

By controlling the cursor, I mean getting the blocks where you want them and nowhere else. This may seem obvious, simple even, except that you are dealing in a diagonal-oriented, perspective environment. You think you may be following a straight line, then the work you're drawing darts back and forth as you struggle to hold the line. If you're moving your cursor from a near side to a far one, the effect of perspective, and the loss of the visible grid on your work plane, makes it even more difficult to finish correctly. The solution is to start from the far side of your work, on whichever plane you're drawing on, and build toward you. If you need, rotate the work 45 or 90 degrees to bring it into an orientation that makes it easier for you to build this way. You can always turn the piece back to your original orientation afterwards. And remember the Undo button if you make a mistake; it works a lot faster than the Eraser.

Vertical proportions are important if you want the building to look as if it were inhabited by humans. My first building was a 5x5 skyscraper, and so worrying about if a person would look right next to it was irrelevant. However, my second was supposed to be a two-story coffeehouse. (It can be found at the SimCity Exchange, www.simcity.com, as Latte Be.) It ended up looking more like a three-story, except I declared that the upper tier of windows were a clerestory level and the main room had a 25-foot ceiling.

My mistake here was in drawing strictly to the grid. Each tile in a grid is subdivided into a smaller 7x7 grid; each square in this smaller grid is the basic unit of building. It's not horribly reasonable (at least to my strange Machiavellian mind!) to assume that one full vertical grid is the height of a person, and not think about the fact that even a 1x1 is 1 tile square. A standard house can fit in 1 tile with room around the edges for a small yard, so it's definitely going to be too high vertically as well.

The obvious solution is to build your vertical walls short, maybe only 5 squares high per floor, within each tile. However, if you build a courtyard or deck or stoop in front of your structure, you must take that extra elevation from "ground level" into consideration. A more effective solution to my mind is to switch back and forth between construction mode and detail mode. I've started basing my floors on the height at which I place my windows, stopping after one floor to compare with a few fast window decals which I can then remove, then return to building if I want more floors. If I need to "shave" a few levels off, it's easy to do with the Eraser or Undo, until I achieve the effect I desire. My second coffeehouse, (Grounds for Consideration, also on the Exchange) was far more proportionate, and the three floors I ended up with were intentional. (Now I just need to figure out how to make decals for a Masonic Lodge.)

Hopefully these suggestions will help as you're mastering BA+.

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