The expansion is very similar to Hot Date in which many game mechanics were revamped. With a new social interaction system, revised user interface, and a new vacation island area with additional sub lots. Whilst Hot Date introduced the concept of sims leaving their lots to go downtown, here sims can actually stay on these lots for an extended period of time, depending on how much money they have.
New interactions exclusive to On Holiday are released that allow sims to invite each other to play games based on the new objects added, like playing archery, volleyball or fishing. In addition, some of the new interactions from hot dates are added.
Holidays allow for sims to take a break from their schedule, as they are not required to work or go to school and dance sims in the first game have no concept of days off or weekends, this expansion allows sims to go off and do other stuff without having to worry about their jobs as they can stay on holiday indefinitely.
There are three types of vacation lots available, each with a different environment:
Beach Lots: Set on your typical beach/seaside, sims can sleep in a hotel located on the lot which will each have a bed and a bathroom. Sims can swim in these areas or play volleyball and can rent sandcastle kits.
Forest Lots: Simulates a camping lot, here your sims are set near woodland and have the option to camp in a tent or rent a log cabin. These lots typically feature a campfire
Snow Lots: Set on a Ski/Snow resort, Some lots have an igloo that your sims can sleep in
Each of the three environments has three different resorts that scale to accommodate the budget of the sims traveling there, there is a cheap resort that features only basic amenities, a moderate one that features a mix of both, and a more expensive one that resembles a hotel of sorts. Sims will need to check in every day at 11:00AM in order to access and use most of the lot facilities. The game will do this automatically unless the sims check out.
Internally, houses 40 – 48 are used or the holiday lots.
Whilst On Holiday, sims will encounter NPC sims that will also be on the same resort. These are like townies (Downtown NPCs) of sorts in that the player cannot control but they can be interacted with, and if your sim has a higher enough relationship they can move in. Some families will have an adult but one or more kids, who will also join the family. This is convenient if you wanted your sim to marry and expand their family quickly without having to go through the baby raising process (Which is horrid in the first Sims)
There are also new NPCs
Vacation Director Kana: Just walk around the lot relentlessly 24/7 with a clipboard, you have to admire her dedication. Your sim can ask her questions to find out more on the different features of the expansion.
Mascots, there are three in total but only one will show up on a lot at a time. The mascot will vary based on the lot environment, beach lots will get the Marky Sharky mascot (If only they got the Marky Mark mascot instead. Berry Yeti is present on the Snow lots and Archie Archer is on the forest lots. They can only be interacted by kids. This makes them annoying since they will constantly try to play with the kid, even if they are busy.
Janitor: Cleans up dirty items on the lot. They’re a bit too keen as they will immediately come and will sometimes block the doorway
A lot of these are intended for use on holiday lots, but can be used in the home buy mode catalog. As introduced in the Hot Date expansion, subcategories are introduced in buy mode which allows for better organization of custom objects.
KampRite Instant Campfire
Redwood Hot Tub
A hot tub that seats two sims, adults only. Very similar to the one introduced in Hot Date
Sims will earn tokens when they win, whih allows them to redeem prizes
Water Ballon Fort
Group activity where sims can throw water balloons
Sims seem to have problems skating without falling down
The third expansion pack and one that brought a major change to the mechanics of the game, the main one being the introduction of community lots and the concept of your sims leaving their lots (well they could technically leave to go to work in the base game)
Also included a nice jazzy soundtrack when editing or vising downtown lots.
Installing the game requires the original game CD, or the House Party disc if that expansion pack is installed, as the game will install the original audio files to the hard drive. Previously the game would stream the audio from the CD to save disc space at the expense of performance. If installing over the Deluxe Edition expansion pack, the user will need to run the deluxe edition installer before they can play the game, this is because the deluxe edition was released after Hot Date.
No new neighborhoods have been included with this expansion, but if you are missing the created neighbourhoods from the House Party expansion (Hoods 5-8) then the installer will create them for you. They will be typical blank neighborhoods without any houses or premade sims.
Upon starting the game, new sims will be generated. These will be your townies that are used for downtown.
Downtown, a new sub-neighborhood. Each hood has its own version of downtown with its own generated set of townies. Sims cannot visit a downtown from another hood.
The user interface has been updated with new features
The house meter and the friend’s meter have been removed and have not been replaced. They were removed in favor of adding the inventory and interests panels. The inventory panel shows objects that are stored by the sims, these can be gifts that have been received by other sims, or prizes won by various games.
A new sub-neighborhood, and the first to be included in the Sims engine. There are lots that your sim can visit with other sims.
You can have different themed downtown lots that cater to a specific Restaurants typically have a podium, a kitchen with a commercial over, and a dining booth or dining table/seats
Shops generally have till’s and can have clothes racks that sims can browse and buy new clothes, or skins as they are referred to. There are also entertainment lots that have activities like pool tables, pinball machines and slot machines
The default lots for Hot Date make use of objects from the base game and the expansion itself, but not objects from other expansions. With this in mind, you can create new downtown lots using objects or themes from other expansions, like a nightclub using the DJ booth and dance floor from House Party. A spare downtown lot exists (23 Wright Way) for this purpose.
The buy mode catalog has been updated, and new sub-categories have been added to help classify items better. Downtown lots also have their own categories, depending on what type of lot you wish to build. Here objects are sorted into shops, restaurants, outdoor
Niagra Love Tub
A hot tub that can seat two sims, who can cuddle and woohoo play
Dawnette Hooded Stove
An oven that occupies two titles, can be placed downtown and is required to operate a restaurant
Bachmeier Grand Piano
A more expensive piano, placing this downtown will spawn a dedicated piano player NPC
Boggs Home Canning Center
Allows your sim to make preserves at home to sell, also increases the cooking skill
Laguna Vista Instand Pond
A fish pond where your sim can feed fish and place boats, multiple sims can use this
Bel-Air Dining Booth
Sims will sit after they order a meal at the podium, works as part of a restaurant set otherwise function as a regular table and chairs
Items such as flowers, toys, chocolate, and a copy of the game itself are sold here and can be bought by your sim, A cash till nearby is required to order
Two exist, one for ice cream and another for burgers, bars also exist for drinks
New social interactions have been added, and the social system has been revamped for each sim to better handle interactions. Many have been grouped into one main social interaction, which then has a few sub-interactions. E.g. Talk has the ‘About Interests’, ‘Gossip’ & ‘Brag’ interactions. Entertain has ‘Joke’ and ‘Juggle’ interactions.
Also known as Sims Livin Large, not sure why they changed the title but Livin large sounds like a fat acceptance movement slogan…
The first of many expansion packs for The Sims, and a must have since the base game was quite barren for content. Lets see what’s been added:
Multiple neighborhoods can coexist, and the expansion ships with 5 extra goods for up to 50 different lots/families. More can be added by navigating to the games system directory, and creating a new Userdata folder (up to 99 supported). Each hood has its own set of lots and families, and with later expansions they also have unique NPCs what show up on their lots. Sims from one neighborhood will not appear in another, and the appearance cannot be customized, unless you mod and load an altered bitmap has the hoods background screen, but I think the game only allows one background bitmap to be set for all hoods. You would still be stuck with the name neighborhood background.
Genie Lamp: When rubbed, will summon a genie who give the choice of two wishes. Unfortunately they have a chance of going wrong.
Here you can chose between two random choices
A nice result, our wish was granted and we got a free high end TV
Unfortunately it was the exact same model that we have already had.
Wishes can go wrong, I’m not sure on the change (Possibly 50/50) but when a wish backfires it can result in something drastic, like an object being set on fire or overdue bills being spawned. Always save before making a wish
Vibromatic heart bed: A bed that increases comfort and is where the magic happens. Costs 20 to use the vibration function each time which sucks considering its an expensive bed.
Telescope: Can be used to increase the logic skill and satisfies the fun meter. There is a chance your sim can be abducted by aliens. When this happens they will be returned with a new randomized personality.
When an abduction occurs, all sims will walk to the telescope, cry for a minute and then go back to what they were doing.
Moosehead: Shows the current mood of the lot, its ankers are based on the average mood off all sims and is useful for later expansion packs like House party to judge if a party is going well.
The Concatenation Station: A chemistry station where sims can make potions. This is created at random. • Blue: The most likely potion to be made, fills 3 needs bar which are chosen at random • Orange: Sims become invisible for the next 12 hours • Light Green: The one to avoid, this causes nearly all needs to plummet to low levels • Dark Green: Makes an evil clone of your sim who will perform bad interactions with other Sims, causing their relationship to suffer • Red: Makes a random sim fall in love with them • Purple: Turns your sim into a monster • White: Will cure any sickness, only creatable by a sick sim • Yellow: Inverts the Sims personality for all points Creating any potions runs the risk of a visit from the police complaining about the smell, and you may be fined. The chemistry table also has a risk of exploding and must be repaired before it can be reused, this will not cause a fire however.
Servo: A robot that acts as the Maid, Gardiner and repairman all in one NPC, one of the most expensive objects in the game. However he has to manually turned on by your sim, he doesn’t come out automatically when a mess has been made but he can be instructed to serve meals.
Voodoo doll: This can be used by sims to annoy or frustrate another sim which results in their comfort level dropping. Useful to get rid of unwanted guests (Not NPCs)
The little bugger itself (not the sim), be careful when you own this
The gerbil painting, which helps cure the disease.
Whilst your sims cannot communicate with the dead, or look into the future, Instead your sims will be given a quest, of which they will be rewarded with a change of personality.
Grim Reaper: Appears when a sim has died, can be pled with who will either ignore, resurrect the sim, or resurrect them as a zombie.
Monster: Resembles Frankenstein, Should your sim drink a specific potion, they will temporally turn into a monster and will break all items on the lot and will need to be repaired, however they seem to like painting. If there is an easel on the lot they will paint until they turn back.
Tragic Clown: Appears when your sims has the tragic clown painting and your sim is in a bad mood. If installing on a fresh install, his painting will appear on prebuilt lots.
The tragic clown in action. The only advantage he brings is you can socialize with him to boost your social motive, otherwise he will become a hindrance since he will wake your sim up if they’re sleeping.
New floors and walls have been added that allow you to theme your Sims houses as if they were from a certain period, there’s a medieval look, or a retro 50/60s look to a interpreted future theme, complete with teleports that act as stairs or spaceship like doors.
Sickness: Guinea pig, this was one of the more controversial features that was added to this expansion pack, since its possible for your sim to get sick and die which was not known to many players at the time leaving them to wonder why their sims kept randomly dying since the game only informer when your sim has died, but not the cause of death. This disease is caused by having your sim play with the guinea pig whilst its either hungry or if its cage is dirty. Once your sim has been bitten their energy motive will begin to decay faster, and sims will start coughing and sneezing. To cure, the ill sim must have plenty of rest and motives should be kept as high as possible. The disease is contagious, and can be passed to other sims via contact.
Roaches: Another annoying feature, they appear if your lot is dirty. If there’s dirty dishes or a lot of trash on the lot.
The Sims Deluxe Edition
This SKU was introduced in 2002 and replaces The Sims, And the Livin It up Expansion pack since it combines content from the two games. This became the new base game as the previous titles were discontinued, and further deluxe bundles were introduced in specific markets that combined certain expansion packs, like Triple Deluxe which bundles House party and On Holiday.
The neighborhood screen has been slightly altered with the top bar being added for for use with future expansion packs (Hot Date and On Holiday)
Deluxe Edition also comes bundled with the Sims Creator which is used for creating Sims faces for use in the game. You can also import a photo and paste it onto a Sims head for use in the game. Also most downloadable objects that were released on the EA website were included, but not the downloadable families like the Hatfield’s or the Jones. Deluxe edition still ships with the premade sims, including the Mashuga’s from the Living It Up expansion.
Last month I looked at the console release of The Sims in depth, mainly studying the game files and the format they are saved in.
One type of file that took my interest was the ngh files, specifically the story, chall and default.ngh files. I know these had some bearing on how the game stored the default neighbourhoods.
The story and chall/challenge files were essentially customized neighbourhood’s, even to an extent we were able to extract and load them on a standard PC copy of the game, albeit with some workarounds but the lots and to some extent, sims were mostly playable, minus some missing objects that were exclusive to the console version.
I wonder what would happen if we swapped these files around, like if we tricked the game into loading the story neighbourhood in play the sims mode, in theory it should allow us to play the story mode sims and their respective lots in a sandbox style mode, along with full customization. What happened if we added the challenge/multiplayer lots into the mix?
To do this we need access to a modified console, since we will be modifying the games data files, and its easier if the game is stored on the Xbox hard drive rather than having to compile / burn a disc image.
Default files for ‘Get a Life’ mode
Default files for the Bonus multiplayer modes
Default neighborhood for the ‘Play the Sims’ mode
For this I used the Xbox version of the game, purely due to the fact it is running a soft modded dashboard with FTP access, which makes it easier to manipulate the files without having to rebuild iso images. Before we start. Ensure you have backed up your games files, specifically the ngh files that we will be swapping around.
To to this we simply rename the ngh files to the one we want to trick the game to load, so to create a sandbox neighborhood with story lots and sims we simply rename story.ngh to default.ngh. We might have to change the original default.ngh to default2.ngh to prevent file conflicts.
Loading Story lots in Play the Sims mode
Possible – Works well and all story mode sims appear without any issues. The level 4 house does exist and appears in the map screen but cannot be selected since this lot is not accessible directly from the game – the lot appears on 4 Sim Avenue which was disabled by the game quite late in development, I’m not sure if they’re is a way to access the lot with cheats or debug actions. It does appear for a short second before moving away to the next lot.
Some sims are duplicated (Dudley/Mimi Langrabb) and some test sims exist such as Jane House. In the xbox version there is a sim called DJ Tooter who never appears in the actual game, and seems to be slightly corrupted as is thumbnail uses an image from the Pc version.
All of the above sims and lots can be moved in and played without any restrictions. No issues with saving or loading lots.
Loading Story lots in Challenge mode
Varies a lot, some lots work but you cannot complete any objectives. Some lots don’t load correctly
Loading Challenge lots in Play the sims mode
Possible – outcome is the same as when we imported the files into the PC version, only this time we have access to all objects and sims looks the way they are intended instead of the default face/skins. Interesting is some families have more than 4 sims, in fact one family has 8 sims, yet the game runs fine although switching between them is far from ideal since you have to spawn the button multiple times to cycle though the sims. Normally the game limit’s you to a max of 4 controllable sims per lot. Some sims here are copies of the story mode sims, with some differences with the personality points. There are a lot of unoccupied sims, which serve as the NPC’s for these mode’s.
Not all lots are playable, one lot appears (The Frat House) in the neighbourhood view but we cannot access it despite there being a family that is occupied in the lot. They don’t have a telephone so you are unable to call or invite them round but they do attend party’s and will walk by the lot occasionally. Other lots don’t appear on the screen, because there are only space for 6 lots and this mode has 8. We are missing one of the Handyman/maid lots which exists in the game but we cannot make it appear since they are mapped to houses 08 and 09 which do not show up in game, the console neighbourhood only holds up to 6 lots.
Loading Challenge lots in Get A Life mode
This one works somewhat, the game tried to load the Dream House at the start of the game, but loads the Maid’s house instead, and we are unable to complete any of the objectives needed to progress through the level the game also ends after a minute and quits back to the main menu screen.
On the Gamecube version though the dolphin emulator, if we use the level skip debug command, we can load the first level, however sadly we hit another road block where we get endless dialogue boxes from MOM. The script gets stuck in an endless loop since the sim in question does not spawn on the lot. Unfortunately we are unable to continue past this point, even with the debug commands.
Loading Sandbox/Play the Sims lots in Challenge mode
Only some lots load, many load a blank lot with no sims. Sadly we are not able to complete any of the challenge mode, and some lots load to a blank lot with the game stuck at 3x Speed, since there are no sims on that lot and the build and buy modes are disabled in this mode.
Loading Sandbox Play the Sims lots in Get A Life mode
Not much luck with this one, game crashes when trying to load the dream mansion lot. Possibly because this hood does not have enough sims to populate, or the lot does not exist.
Xbox Premade Save Files
Works best on a modded xbox with an FTP supported dashboard,
There are two files, one for the Story mode sims and the other for the Challenge mode sims. Both neighborhoods have all playable families and lots with a couple being inaccessible due to limitations with the ‘Play the Sims’ mode of the game
If your Xbox is not modified you need to use software that can write to FATX volumes, along with a supported USB drive and a XBOX to USB cable or Action Replay. You will then need to use the Xbox dashboard to transfer from the memory unit back onto the hard drive.
The NGH files look to be embedded into one of the many arc files, which is a customized format used by the game. We can extract the game files using the same QuickBMS script, however I have yet to come across a NGH file. It’s possible Bustin Out uses its own structure that makes it incompatible with the format that the PC and console versions use.
If you look at the Bustin Out lots, they seem to look similar to the first console release in terms of build mode tools, but some lots have custom backdrops, like Tinsel Bluffs having a city/mountain backdrop and Casa Calente having a seaside backdrop. The original console version however had a standard stone wall surrounded by green grass, in style with the neighborhood theme.
The sims themselves however may be compatible, they both have the same personality system, and the create a sim items are mostly the same in terms of customization.
To be frank with the Sims Bustin out, as much as I liked the game, the free-play mode was disappointing compared to the previous since console installment. With only 3 Freeplay lots there isn’t much room for a proper sandbox style game which limits what you can do. Also EA had designed 5 careers that were exclusive to Free Play mode
I can’t understand why the other Bustin out premade sims were not fully playable, whilst you could control them you they were unable to progress through their careers, or where you able to marry or move them out or switch them to a different career. I understand that those sims are tied to some goals but surly if you have completed all goals you should be able to unlock the ability for proper control of these sims, since they are no longer needed to fulfil your sims goals. Some sims were not controllable at all (Dudley/Mimi Landgrabb, Bella and Charity if your sim was a male) It seems like EA wanted to focus on the story mode of the game rather than the sandbox as to not distract from the PC version of the game, which had it’s seventh expansion pack around the time of Bustin Out’s release, as-well as the upcoming Sims 2.
When the sims was released for consoles in 2002, it was not a straight 1:1 port of the PC game. Whilst the PC version played using a 2D isometric perspective with the sims themselves being rendered in 3D. This was mostly since 3D capable graphics card were not that common in most desktop PC’s, and because The Sims being considered an experimental game, Maxis wanted to keep the minimum specifications as low as possible.
When The Sims was ported to consoles, the developers had the opportunity to render the game fully in 3D, a first in the series. There were however some gameplay secrifices that had to be made, mainly due to the reduced memory of the consoles. First is that you are limited to a single story building – no upstairs, probably to make the game more simple and because it may have been awkward to switch between the two stories using the game controller without resorting to a key combination, as all the buttons had been mapped for other uses. Another annoying limitation was the object limiter, which limited the amount of objects you could have on a lot, due to the amount of memory on the consoles.
Despite the differences with the graphics, the gameplay was mostly intact with many of the objects from the PC base game being included, along with some console exclusive objects. Many of the pre-made Sims appear here with the same members, The Goths with Mortimer, Bella and Cassandra, The Roomies with Chris and Melissa, the Newbie, Pleasant and Bachelor families still being present. The only major difference is the Sims and their world being fully rendered in 3D. The lots are mostly the same with the absence of the second story, although the mansion from the first game is missing.
A new addition to the game was the ‘Get a Life’ mode, which was a single player level based mode where you create your own Sim who has to progress through a rags to riches style of gameplay. Your Sim would basically start from their parents house and would have to get a job and upgrade their skills, after two promotions they would progress onto the next stage in a new lot, along with certain other challenges. The en goal being to reach the top of their career ladder and to get married. Players would also have to upgrade the lot by purchasing new furniture, meeting new friends and hosting many parties. The Sims Bustin Out would later expand on this formula greatly, and would be the basis for the Urbz and would influence The Sims Life Stories spin offs.
Another console exclusive feature was the two player mode, where two players could control two different Sim’s on the same lot by using a second controller,this would split the screen and allow each Sim to be controlled by both players. There are also mini games (Challenge mode) that are centred around this feature were two players would compete to get the most friends, or to get the cleanest house.
Because of the Similarities of the PC and console versions, I wondered if they were both compatible with each others data, as in you could extract a lot from the PC version and load it on the console version. There are a few challenges to this, since the PC version used 2D graphics compared to the 3d models that the console uses, and the Sims themselves are rendered differently. It’s worth looking at the console disk images to see if there are any similarities to the PC version.
PC Version (The Sims – Base Game only)
Two story buildings
Single Story building
Can only choose from a selection
Can customize hair, face, eyes, mouth, makeup
Can only choose from a selection
Can customize top, bottom, shoes and colour of each item
10 lots selectable
6 lots selectable + 1 hidden/disabled
8 selectable sims per household
4 selectable sims per household
Cannot edit lots without a family moved in until Unleashed EP
Can enter build/buy without a family moved in
Up to two players with two controllers
Near unlimited objects
Object limiter (may vary on console)
Online Exchange support – Now Offline
No Online support for DLNS/Xbox Live
I started with the Xbox version, since the XBOX was built on the PC architecture with it’s Intel processor,and since it’s possible to ftp directly into a modified Xbox rather than having to extract and recreate an iso image. First obstacle I ran into were these ARC files, which were also present in the Gamecube and PS2 versions. They were quite large files and contained a bulk of the games size. These files store a bulk of the games content.
In order to extract data from this you will need a custom utility with a plugin that understands these formats. From a bit of research ARC was a older compression format what fell out of use once zip took over. Nintendo also used ARC format as a container format for their games similar to the CAB format used on Windows however this seems to be a different format only used by Nintendo. There are also several different ARC formats that are incompatible with each other, which makes it hard to extract files form this format, and makes it harder to inject files into an existing ARC file. i’m not sure if these formats are different format that share the same extension, or there is some encryption/passcode involved.
What’s interesting is each console has a different file size for their respective ARC file, with the Gamecube being the largest. Maybe they are duplicating the files on the Gamecube version in order to reduce loading times? or the Xbox version might be compressed more? This would make sense for the sound and cutscene since they would be using the wmv and wma format for audio on the Xbox, the PS2 may have used MPEG2 since the Emotion Engine had an onboard MPEG2 decoder for it’s DVD player. The Gamecube does not have an onboard decoder so it needs to decode video and audio in software, which would affect the codec’s being used, and in turn affect the file size.
Looking on the Gamecube disc there is a Runtime folder that holds data for the default neighbourhoods, along with the sims, lots, and occupied objects (but not the objects themselves, or the skins, wall or floors). At first I assumed this was where the game pulls the default neighbourhood data from when creating an new memory card file, and would act as a template, however closely inspecting a batch files, it seems this folder is used to create the .ngh file which is kind of like a zip or cab archive of the above folders. The runtime folder is not present on the Xbox or Playstation 2 versions, but the ngh files are.
ChalData – for the 2 player lots
StoryData – a neighbourhood for the get a life mode
UserData – a neighbourhood for the play the sims mode / sandbox
These are template folders, I assume they get created to the memory card upon creating a new game, and the memory cards hold an ‘zipped’ or arced copy of the files.
There are 4 batch (.bat) files that were used to create the ngh files, here’s what exportstory.bat looks like;
SimsNghExport.exe – program used to create the ngh files, sadly not on disc
allcharaters.rsp – this file lists all the NPC and playable sims that shipped with the game, what gender/age and their skin-tone and clothing but NOT personality or job. I’m guessing that specific data is stored in the respective userXXXX.iff file, with the console specific stuff being referred to in this ngh file. The key field looks to the the sim name since I cant find any userid?
iWalllsFloors.ini – not sure, just a bunch of numbers, might be remapping the PC walls to the console version?
StoryData – folder, contains character files and house .iff files, basically the equivalent to the Userdata folder on the PC version
story.ngh – the output file
need to look the this ngh format, is it an archive? Is it compressed? Can we add and remove data with it?
This got me thinking if we could take this data and load it into the pc version of the game? After all, the extensions are the same (.iff) although the file sizes are smaller. In order to investigate further we need to call a old friend called Windows…
For this we are using the original unpatched sims base game, with no expansions.
First I started off by copying the entire userdata folder from the gamecube iso into the game files and started the game up. What greeted me was this error message;
It’s not much of an error since you can click OK and the game to continue to load. Interesting is the names referenced in the message box, Grimreaper, which didn’t appear in the base game, only in the Livin it up expansion pack (GrimReaper does exist in the console version). Monkeybutler which is exclusive to the console release (its part of an object like the Servo robot in Livin It Up, cleans the house and repairs), not sure about robot or officer2?
Also what is sourcesafe?
After loading the game I found not of the lots were accessible or even recognisable, clicking on them did nothing and no lot information data would appear. When I clicked on the family bin icon however I could see the two unoccupied families from the console version, the heads and faces looked to be missing and the game has loaded the default templates. Understandable since the console sims are in an incompatible 3d format, I’m surprised the game didn’t crash outright.
I tried copying it again, this time leaving the neighbourhood.iff filers intact, this time a different error message appears;
I assume the neighbourhood.iff acts as some soft of database of which sims belong on a specific lot and also deals with NPC assignments.
Loading the Story mode families
What about the story mode folder? For this I did the same with the storyData folder, copied it to the game files and renamed it userdata and see how the game reacted.
Checking the family bin you can see all the sims used in get a life mode, all from the different households. Some are even listed twice like Dudley and Mimi landgrabb .
The same issue with the lots persist, and after copying back the original files from the PC neighbourhood, I tried moving one of the sims in and clicking on their control panels. The skills and personality points seem to be intact with what the console version would show, although the sim names are always in BLOCK CAPITALS, maybe this was deliberate since it was easier to read on a standard definition TV screens at the time?
Interesting is that there are multiple copies of some sims, the Landgrabs and Mom have duplicate versions. This may be because once you move to another level, the previous sims are deleted except for the langrabb’s and Mom, who’s relationship gets transferred to the other copy. Other sims like the Roomies are deleted once you move from stage 4 to 5.
There are also two other families, the Tooter family with the sim ‘DJ’, and a ‘JANE HOUSE’. As these don’t appear in the game, they are either cut from the game or test sims. It’s worth noting than upon loading the families in a lot you will receive the below errors message, however this wont effect the game and will continue to load normally.
Loading the lots
To get the console lots to load you need to trick the game into loading them, since starting the game up the game would just ignore them and the lot would be undetectable from the nhood screen, however if you load up with the original pc lots, alt-tab out of the game and replace the lot and then alt tab back into the game and load the specific lot, the game will load the lot. You will receive a missing objects error message which is to be expected, any objects the game can match will be present in the lot. Walls and floors are slightly different, the game will load the respective one but it if it tries to load a wall that is not there it will default to as substitute, the same happens with floors, and sim heads and bodies. Swimming pools will be missing since the console version used fixed design swimming pools, the PC version instead allows you to build your own swimming pool.
Unfortunately this is when I started to encounter issues with the base game, as loading certain lots would just cause the game to crash regardless, lot 4 in particular was very problematic. Switching to the The Sims complete collection fixed this and was able to load all of the lots. It was also more compatible since the console games contains content that was also included with later expansion packs, It was defiantly better at matching the correct walls and floors. Unfortunately sims complete collection refused to accept the neighbourhood iff file or the characters/sims themselves, which meant I could not load the console sims directly. Perhaps the neighbourhood files have changed significantly since unleashed in a way that breaks compatibility with the older code. The Sims Deluxe Editions might be a good compromise to test out but for now lets continue with Complete collection.
Userdata Lots – Play the Sims Mode
After loading a lot you must save before exiting to the hood or the game, as the game will crash. Em guessing there is incomplete data that the game tries to fill in when saving, or the game tries to load the 3D thumbnail used on the console version which wont render on the PC version.
It’s built but no doors or windows or any objects?
Mostly empty lot with a small house and two doors
No luck getting the occupied sims themselves to migrate over, must use a different format for sims that move into occupied houses. only family’s that are in the family bin.
Story Data Lots
Exactly the same as House00 in Userdata
The mansion at the start of the game, dream sequence
Mostly empty lot with a small house and two doors
After placing House10, a development time message keep appearing, selecting yes or no yielded no noticeable effect.
Char Data Lots (Challenge mode)
Exactly the same as House00 in Userdata
The Frat House
Mostly empty lot with a small house and two doors
Links to both extracted Lots and Character files in separate archives
Over the course of the original sims lifespan, Maxis had released early forms of free DLC (Downloadable Content) for free on their website. Listed as ‘Get Cool Stuff’ players were able to download free families, objects and skins to use in their game. Whilst skins and objects are easy to integrate into your game, lots and families are harder, especially if you had the original base game that had no support for multiple neighbourhoods.
This meant if you wanted to use the downloaded families, they had to overwrite an existing lot in the neighbourhood, which would replace the family on the lot. Livin large mitigated this by allowing multiple neighbourhoods, but Unleashed went one step further and expanded the neighbourhood to accommodate a large amount of lots.
One thing that bothered me with Livin Large was the Mashuga family, who up until Unleashed were the sole residents of neighbourhood 2. Maxis intended for you to create and move in sims to keep them company but personally i’d rather have all Maxis sims in one hood.
Playing Sims 2 for as couple of years I came across multiple projects that seek to combine multiple neighbours into one ‘Megahood’, where pre-made neighbourhoods could be merged into one large neighbourhood. This took advantage of the sub-hoods introduced in the Open for Business expansion pack. For example Pleasentview would be the main neighbourhood, with Veronaville, Strangetown would become sub hoods, known as shopping districts in the game. You could even do this with hoods introduced in later expansion packs, and hoods that shipped with the Sims stories spin-offs. By doing this you could have one large hood where different sims from different hoods could interact with each other.
I wondered if something similar could be done for the original sims.
For this we need to be using The Sims with at least Unleashed expansion installed, since the increased lot slots were a requirement for this. Livin Large is also a desired expansion to have, solely for the Mashuga family. In order to have all Maxis families and lots in one hood, we need to move a couple of files around, unfortunately since the game lacks these tools we need to resort to trusty Windows Explorer. As always make sure you back up your UserData folders. The goal is to have one large neighbourhood with all Maxis made houses and families
To keep the neighbourhood appearance as genuine as possible, since we will be exchanging lots that may have a different size, some lots may overlap onto the world or another lot, we can use the map_edit tool to overcome this.
Since the original Sims website was removed a while ago, all of the Maxis downloadable files were no longer obtainable, however they can be downloaded using the below links;
We want to transfer the Mashuga family from hood 2 to hood 1. If the game is running, exit the lot and go to the hood screen. Then alt tab out of the game. The Mashuga’s reside in Lot 9, but this clashed with the Hatfield family who also reside on Lot 9, so we move the Mashuga’s to a vacant lot. The ideal lot found is lot 52, because the lot size is identical (2646 Sq Ft) and has two roads perpendicular.
To do a lot swap we need to temporally suspend the game by using alt-tab, then navigating to the game installation directory to manipulate the files
The lot will be vacant, here’s what I did to import and migrate to another lot;
First exit back to the nhood,
Switch back to nhood 2
Enter the Mashuga lot with family moved in,
Save the lot, regardless if any changes or any time has elapsed, we do this so the game generates an export file.
Exit the lot back to the nhood screen
Alt-Tab out of the game, and navigate to the game userdata 2 directory, then open the Export folder
Copy the Mashuga.FAM file and paste it into the Userdata/Import folder, Has to be Userdata not userdata2
Alt tab back into the game, the import button should be lit, switch back to the nhood 1 and press the import button
The game will import the Mashuga family into lot 9 an will replace the family on that lot, this is temporary as we will be moving them to another lot.
Verify the lot works by loading the lot
Evict the Mashuga family from lot9 by clicking on the Evict button, this will move the family to the lots and houses bin
Move them into the empty lot 52
Save the game and return to the nhood
In the Userdata2 folder, enter the Houses folder and copy House 09 file to the desktop, or to a temporary folder.
Rename that file to House52 and copy it to the directory userdata/Houses. The Userdata folder is the first nhood, with userdata2 being the second nhood.
Alt tab back into the game and switch to hood1, or hood 2 then hood 1 if your are already on the first nhood.
The Mashuga house will appear on lot 52 Ridge Road.
Enter the lot and the family should load near intact, if there are any red circles on the sims, click on them and they should spawn near the mailbox.
The Mashuga family should now be fully playable.
Phase 2 – Preparing for the Maxis refugees
Here is some information about the downloadable Maxis families
Hood1: None Hood2: Vacant lot with Home
Hood1: None Hood2: Mashuga Family
Hood1: Vacant lot with Home Hood2: Vacant
Hood1: Vacant Hood2:Vacant
Hood1: Vacant Hood2:Vacant
The Valentino and Maximus family have no clashes and can be imported into a stock maxis hood without any issues. The Hatfield family can be imported and will replace the old Mashuga house, but since we have teleport-ed them to lot 52, that wont be a problem. The Jones family can also be imported without any issue on hood 1 also.
The Problem is the Snooty Patooty family. If you imported the family into the stock first nhood, it will replace the mansion on lot 2. We don’t want this to happen, especially since its a really nice house. We’d want to preserve it so like the mashuga house we can move it to another lot. However lot 2 is quite a big lot and if we were to migrate it to another empty lot we would have an issue where the lot would overlap another lot. This isn’t an issue when playing the game but looks funky on the hood screen.
After experimenting with multiple empty lots and using the map edit tool to change the lot boundaries, the ideal lot I found was lot 79, Crumplebottom Court. It’s not ideal but it does blend in with the other lots adjacent.
Similar to the Mashuga lot moving processes, alt tab out of the game
In the Userdata/houses directory, copy the House02 file and paste it to the desktop
Rename the file from House 02 to House 79
Paste it into the same Userdata/houses folder, overwrite if prompted
Alt/Tab back into the game, switch between hood 2 and 1 to refresh the screen
The lot should appear but looks a bit… iffy. This is because the lot is a lot larger than the lot it has replaced, fortunately we can do something to amend the lot data using the map_edit tool
Enter lot 79
Hold Ctrl Shift C, in the command box, enter “map_edit on”
This puts you into the map editor mode, were you can select the tiles we are able to edit, this also controls which roles appear on the hood screen. Thankfully this lot is quite large and has a lot of editable space.
The shaded/red square tells the game that the tile can be user edit, whilst the white parts tell the game this tile is off limits and cannot have objects placed on it. You will notice both sides of the lot are unshaded, along with the road at the front of the house, which should give you an idea how the map edit works.
For this lot, we want to section off the rear, so the map on the nhood screen wont bleed onto the road (technically the map is the wrong way round compared to the nhood screen, but this wont affect the game stability and is purely for cosmetic, you will however lose the ability to place objects in this area but since this is a huge map that should not be a huge issue, also the carpools will continue to function normally)
Once you are happy with the map, hold Ctrl Shift C and enter map_edit off to disable the map editor, and then save and exit back to the hood. You must save the game by using the save button (floppy disk icon) first, then press the neighbourhood icon, if you just press the neighbourhood icon you will lose all map editing changes, the game wont even ask if you wish to save. I think this occurs because no new items have been placed on the lot or no game time has elapsed, so the game thinks no changes have been made to to the lot, despite editing the map parameters.
Once you hare happy with the changes, we can go ahead with importing the Snooty Patooty family
Phase 3 – Importing the remaning Vacant lots
Migrating the remaining vacant lots from hood 2
The second hood contains 2 vacant lots which we can import into the first neighbourhood, however there are a few clashes that we nee to solve before we can migrate them to hood1
1 Sim Lane
Clashes with the downloaded Jones family
7 Sim Lane
Clashes with the Newbie Lot in Hood1
1 Sim Lane
Lot 65 seems to be a good fit
Alt tab out of the game
Copy House01 to the desktop and rename it to House65
Copy an paste House65 to the UserData/House directory, Overwrite if prompted
Enter the lot, once loaded enable the map edit tool (map_edit on)
for this lot I would unshaded the hilly areas at the back of the lot
Once everything is correct, turn off the map edit tool (Map_edit off)
We can move this lot onto lot 50 Ridge Road
Alt tab out of the game
Copy House07 to the desktop and rename it to House50
Copy and paste House50 to the UserData/House directory, Overwrite if prompted
Enter the lot, once loaded enable the map edit tool (map_edit on)
This lot you can unshaded the right side, near the patio next to the road.
Once everything is correct, turn off the map edit tool (Map_edit off) and then save.
The ‘Other’ Lot 2 – The Agent Household
There is another Maxis download known as the Agent house, however given the size of the house and lot, i’m not sure on the best way to integrate it into the hood. This lot also occupies lot 2 so it would conflict with the mansion from the original game and the Snooty Patooty household.
Lot 67 seems to be a good candidate but requires a lot of map editing.
There isn’t much room to cut away before you start selecting tiles that are already occupied. Still it’s not too visible from the hood screen, only the white tiles can be seen overlapping onto the road.
That’s it! i’m not sure if there were any additional lots or families released by EA/Maxis for the original game but we at least have a vacant lot on 51 Ridge Road for future use. Unfortunately with the original sims you are quite limited on how lots can be placed in a single hood, in addition to the quantity of lots. Looking at the game files it seems theirs an engine limit of 99 lots, with many being used for commercial lots. Strangely lots 11-20 are unused by the game, with the Downtown lots start from 21 -30. Maybe there’s a way be can unlock and access these lots and find a way to map them on the main neighbourhood screen so they’re accessible by the game.