Thursday, February 28, 2019

Merrie Minstrels 4: Carnaval!

The Merrie Minstrels, Merrie Minstrels II: Meríminsutoreru Merrie Minstrels III: Bittersweet Symphony, and Merrie Minstrels 3.5: On the March  have been an enormous success, and I appreciate the huge outpouring of support I've received.

Merrie Minstrels IV: Carnaval! is a little bit different. We tried to capture the essence of Brazil's massive, garish, and amazing carnivals. There's a solid collection of instruments and overlays, but the emphasis is on the colorful outfits of the samba schools. I timed its release so that it corresponds to the 2019 carnival in Brazil.

The outfits are divided into three schools, each with its own unique outfits and accessories.


Credit where credit is due. The concept of this project was Coni's. Brazil is near her, and she's always had a fascination with all things Samba. She's responsible for a huge part of the research that went into developing this project.

Samba music is very percussion-driven. The caixa, repique, and tamborim deliver pounding beats, the surdo provides the bass, and the other instruments add unique flavors to the music.

The instruments

Agogô: The agogô (ah-go-GO) is essentially a two- or three-tone cowbell.

Caixa de guerra: The caixa (KIE-sha) is a small snare drum, and delivers sharp, rapid-fire beats.

Cavaquinho: The cavaquinho (ka-va-KEEN-yo) is the only stringed instrument in the lineup. It's a small guitar-like instrument, similar to a ukelele.

Chocalho: The chocalho (cho-KIE-yo) is a series of jangles mounted on a long stick or in a frame.

Cuica: The cuica (KWEE-ka) is a membranophone. It's essentially a bamboo rod attached perpendicularly to the inside of a drumhead. Manipulating the rod causes a variety of high-pitched sounds.

Pandeiro: A pandeiro (pahn-DAY-ro) ia a big tamborine. Pandeiros are normally adorned with the emblem of the samba school they represent.

Pratos: Pratos (PRAH-toes) are small cymbals.

Repique: The repique (reh-PEE-kay) is a small- to mid-sized cylindrical drum, played with a stick and an open palm. The stick delivers sharp sounds, and the open palm delivers more broadcast (lingering) sounds.

Surdo: The surdo (SOOR-doe) is a bass drum, played with a mallet and an open palm, in a style similar to the repique, but it delivers deeper tones. Surdos come in three sizes.

Tamborim: A tamborim (tom-bor-EEM) is a small hand drum, normally emblazoned with the Samba school's emblem, played with a flail. It produces sharp, high sounds.

The performance

The performance itself is a fierce competition between the top Samba schools in each region. Each school (escola) fields its best dancers and musicians. The presentation has the following elements:

Mestre-Sala and Porta-Bandeira: The mestre-sala (headmaster) and porta-bandeira (color guard) represent the school. They are always a couple, in highly stylized baroque-era clothing, and they present the school's flag.

Reina, Destaques, and Pasistas: Each school organizes its dancers by category. Each school has only one reina (queen), who is generally the most skillful of the dancers, followed by destaques (featured dancers) and pasistas (dancers). The pasistas normally occupy a spot on the massive, elaborate floats each school presents.

Batería: The musicians. Usually there are several row, each row playing a different kind of instrument. Directors (conductors) wear opposite-colored clothing so that they're clearly visible to the musicians.

While I wasn't able to create the massive floats, I have tried to represent the other elements of the competition in this set. I hope you enjoy it, and may the best school win.

The accessories and clothes

This set includes 19 new instrument accessories, 8 hats and headdress accessories, and a huge selection of new clothing meshes.

The recolors are divided into three schools. Each school has mestre-sala clothes in AM, LBB, and SBB, porta-bandeira outfit in AF, FitChick, and Rio, dancer outfits in Rio (my favorite size) and Bootylicious DD (Coni's favorite size, musician outfits in AM, LBB, SBB, AF, Fitchick, and Rio, and director outfits in AM, LBB, and SBB. Everything is available in Casual, for YA to Elder.

The feathers on the back of the dancer, mestre-sala and porta-bandeira outfits and the arm and leg bands on the dancer outfit are multimeshes; that is to say, there are three different feather locations (each with three different tiers) and they're alpha-editable, so you can hide the parts you don't use. The soldier outfits have alpha-editable armbands, and the feathers on the dancers' headdresses are also alpha-editable.

The accessories and poses are for YA-Elder, both genders, only. The instruments and accessories can be used with everything except underwear and swimwear. They're binned using NixNivis's/my binning system (Swords for Morgaine/The Armory) as opposed to my binning system (Project 2395/Outdoor Adventures/Midnight at...) either as right hand, left hand, helmet, or hip accessories, as appropriate.

There are one or more upper body overlays for each instrument type, four director's overlays (usable with or without the baton), three lower body overlays, three sets of full-body poses for presenting the flag, and 22 dancer's poses, plus face overlays.

The upper body overlays can be used alone or combined with lower body overlays and/or default Maxis walking animations. They essentially “lock” all the joints from the waist to the shoulder in place, leaving the lower torso and (in most cases) head and neck free. They can also be used with regular Maxis walking animations. The lower body overlays allow the Sims to stand or walk while using the instrument poses. 

This is a huge list, and I'm thankful to all the creators who made this possible.

First and foremost, to my dear friend and constant inspiration, Coni, for the original idea for a new Merrie Minstrels project, for doing a lot of the original research, for making almost all of the textures, and probably for about a thousand other things that I'm forgetting. This project simply would not have been possible without her help.

Instruments and hand accessories:

supernode for the flag model
Philipp for the agogô model
Zara A. for the conductor's baton object
printable_models for the percussion model used on the caixa, repique, surdos, and cuica.
hypnagogia for the base model I used to make the cavaquinho
kropaman for the whistle model
James Moffatt for the drumstick model

Outfits and clothing accessories:

SussiSoGoodSims for the base mesh for the mestre-sala outfit
AtomicSpaceKitty for the base texture used in the mestre-sala outfit
Wawa for the base mesh and texture for the porta-bandeira outfit
SynapticSim for the alpha-editable arm and leg bands and the base uniform meshes I used for the Soldier-style uniforms
BobbyTH for the original work that went into the Bootylicious bodyshape
MASims for the high heels
Warlokk for the base Rio mesh
Julie J for the base Booty mesh
lidiqnata one set of alpha-editable feathers
Wawa (again) for another set of alpha-editable feathers
ran417 for the third set of alpha-editable feathers
Xelandis for a the open crown-style headdress
aMidianBorn and caBal for the helmet-style headdress and texture
Wawa and maya40 for the tiara-style headdress mesh and texture
NixNivis for the base meshes used in the Napoleon-style uniforms
Wawa (once again) for the base uniform texture, as well as the hat mesh and texture and the epaulets, used on the Napoleon-style uniforms.
Earind for the helmet accessory mesh
mdpthatsme for the top part of the Sombrerito-style uniforms
lezisel for the mesh and texture for the Sombrerito accessory

Additional credits

Lifa for the WSO actions that made the size coversions quick and easy
LadyAquanine for her immense knowledge of Sims 2 CC, for the managing and curating the best Sims 2 Pinterest boards on the interwebz, and for moral support

Note: The crowns pictured aren't included, but you can snag them at The Medieval Smithy.

The outfits:

The Accessories:

High Poly Warning: This set is a storyteller's resource, and emphasizes detail over performance. I trimmed the poly count down as far as I was able without sacrificing object detail, but some of the objects (Especially the percussion pieces) and 30-40 k polys.

These are the custom accessory thumbnails, as they appear in CAS (apologies, did not include violins in this one):

For this set, I created a brand new posebox.

Overlays and poses

The overlays are special poses that only "lock" selected joints. All of the instrument poses are upper body overlays. These overlays can be used in conjunction with regular Maxis walking animations, or with the lower body overlays.

There are three lower body overlays: centered, right leg forward, and left leg forward. 

Instrument overlays

Director overlays

Overlays for conducting the musicians.

Presenting flag poses

Dance poses

Q: Will you be making teen accessories, J?

A: No. The set was insanely hard to make just for YA-Elder. If you have the time and ability to convert my accessories to teen, knock yourself out.

Q: Where's the reco-reco? I wanted a reco-reco.

A: Per Coni, the reco-reco is a tropical instrument and not part of the traditional Samba lineup. I included the absolute best 3D models I could find for this project, and ended up freehanding a few of the mnodels because I wan't entirely happy with what I found.

Q: Why did you make them as Body Shop accessories? Why didn't you make them as Decorgal-style props that can be spawned in the sim's hand?

A: Have you ever TRIED to make a Decorgal-type accessory? They're stupid hard, bruh. The project would have taken me 3 1/2 months instead of 3 1/2 weeks.

Q: Um, you know that there are a couple of nips poking out on two of the outfits, right?

A: Watch a carnival video on YouTube. Brazilians are totally okay with nips.

Q: Do you have any future plans for the Merrie Minstrels project?

A: Not in the immediate future. Merrie Minstrels was originally planned as a one-shot, but became a HUGE sleeper hit and a fan favorite. It isn't a regular planned series like Midnight at... or Combate Moderno; the ideas for the sequels were suggested by fans or came to me out of the blue, or in this case Coni twisted my arm until I got around to doing it.

Q: Do you plan to do more collaborations with Coni?

A: Of course. For as long as she's willing to put up with me.

Q: The set is really good, but ... (laundry list of complaints on an unrelated forum).

A: Okay, so provide constructive criticism. I openly admit that I don't know a great deal about Samba music. If you have ideas or suggestions that will make this/ any future installment better, lay them on me.

The files are massive; even Compressorized and .rar'd, the clothing file is about 63 megs and the instruments and accessories is about 9 megs. Please be patient. There are two versions of the clothes (Tooltipp'd and BSOK'd). Please download only one. 


  1. You've excelled yourself again! I mean, everything you make is really great and totally original, but you've blown me away with this set.
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks, gNg! This was a really fun set and I'm glad you like it.

  2. This is a very lovely set, and I can see the attention to detail by both you and Coni. I applaud the artistry. If I ever come up with an idea to use it in my game, I will be sure to come back and download this. But for now, I will simply admire these pixels on my browser for the time being.

    It is really a beautiful set though!

    1. Hi!

      Thank you. It was a massive undertaking (as are all the Merrie Minstrels projects) and we both put huge amounts of effort into this project to make it shine.

      It's a great resource if you need these specific elements for a story (as we both do), and I suppose you could give the instruments or dance poses other uses.

      As always, thanks for the feedback.

  3. Hi there and Happy Anniversary to you both! Thank you for this beautiful set and all of the fabulous creations you've shared with us over the years. Wishing you both the best, now and always :)

    1. Hi! Thank you kindly. Hope you enjoy the set, and we appreciate the kind words.