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Installation and after

System requirements

The minimum memory requirement for any Sims release up to Deluxe is stated to be 64MB for Windows 9xx and 128MB for Windows XP, with 64MB added if more expansion packs are installed, and 128MB for Unleashed and Superstar. This is half of what I'd use. On the PC, I'd recommend 256MB and a separate partition for the swapfile. On the Mac, I have the packs up to House Party, and 128MB has proved sufficient so far. That is, under MacOS X, with its Unix-based swapfile. Playing under MacOS 9.2.2, I've had freezes so nasty (and probably memory-related) that even the Off button didn't respond, and I had to pull the plug to restart the computer. On a Mac-friendly Sim help page somewhere, it says that the solution to most problems is to put in more RAM. I endorse that advice. In addition, the amount of memory allocated to the Sims by default under MacOS 9 is not enough, and should be manually increased. It's fortunate that under MacOS 9, the user is warned when memory is getting critically low!

Through the succession of expansion packs, the minimum processor required has gone up from 266Mhz (Vacation) via 350Mhz (Unleashed) to 450Mhz (Superstar). Up to Deluxe, 350Mhz will work, with the lowest graphical settings. With Unleashed, 350Mhz presents problems when visiting community lots, and 800Mhz or upwards is probably the realistic minimum.

Graphics adapter: the card should be fast but, more importantly, it shouldn't steal resources from the soundcard. Playing with an 8MB AGP card (quite a speed demon in its time, I suppose) I'm getting used to not hearing any background music, or the occasional crackle and pop. As the XA files (WAV-based) do play and the music files (MP3, needing decompression) don't, the slow processor may also be a factor. (The official minimum requirement for the Superstar expansion pack is a 4MB graphics card. BWAAAHAHAHA!!)

Disk space: the original Sims could be installed and played in less than 1 GB diskspace. However, with all the expansions, extra neighbourhoods and personal additions like downloaded skins/objects, shapshots taken, webpages generated, and neighbourhood backups, 5 to 10 GB is better. I have a 20-GB partition for all Maxis-related files (that includes editors and my own projects) and a 1-GB dedicated swapfile partition on the PC; on the Mac, which has several installations side by side, the Sims plus expansions Livin' Large and House party currently occupies some 2 GB per installation.

The Sims can play on Windows 9xx and there is an adapted Sims-only version for the Mandrake/Mandriva gaming Linux distribution that plays on WineX. The Sims Deluxe is compatible with Windows XP and can be used to update older releases. Unleashed and higher for PC are new enough to work on Windows XP.

The Sims for Mac needs MacOS 8.6 or upwards, possibly with some Carbon libs added; the Aspyr website explains that in more detail. On systems with MacOS 9.x or higher, the game can simply be expected to run. The patches offered on Aspyr's site not only update the MacOS 9 executable included in the game, but add the MacOS X version. I assume Unleashed and Superstar for Mac already have executables for both 9 and X.

De-censoring

One thing I did immediately after installing the game on both the PC and the Mac was to apply the anti-censor patch. The Sims are not anatomically correct (in that respect, their very design is censored) and remain dressed when using the toilet, so I didn't see the point of adding a mass of shimmering squares which obscure some of the animation and can bubble annoyingly through the walls. Even stupider was the pet censor in Unleashed that covers hunting cats at the moment of the kill. Aside from the fact that the prey measures only a few pixels, so the gore isn't too graphical; if you don't want cats killing things, don't get a cat!

For the Sims, LL and HP (and Deluxe), the censor patch for adults and children requires only two CMX files. From HD upwards, it requires four. The pet patch is only needed in Unleashed and can be found on Pandora's site as "Petoff.exe" which automatically installs the files to the GameData\Skins folder, which is where all censor-patch files belong; Mac users have to uncompress the files and drag them there by hand.

Since the censor patches are so easy to make, I wrote a howto for people who want to save themselves the trouble of a websearch.

Skipping the intro

To skip the intro when starting the game (it isn't annoying the first time, but it is the twentieth time) on the PC, right-click on the Sims shortcut, choose "Properties" and edit the Target field. It may read something like:

"C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\Sims.exe" -r1024x768
where the "-r" option sets the resolution. Add another option to the end of that: " -skip_intro". This does exactly what it says.

How to get rid of the intro on the Mac, I sadly don't know, as the Mac alias doesn't take arguments. I just ram on the Enter key three times to cut short both the Aspyr reel and the Maxis intro.

Saving the keys

This applies only to the PC:
I have a habit of keeping my OSes on primary partitions C:, and data files on logical partitions D: and upwards; as backup, I make a drive image of C: and save this image back to disk whenever the registry is too fouled up, or I suspect a virus, or whatever. But when I do, I also lose all registry info on expansion packs installed, and the many shortcuts Maxis and Sims editors add to the menu. The solution to the second problem is a fan-made utility called "Sim Launch" which stores all shortcuts internally and keeps my menu nice and clean. To overcome the first, I copy the relevant registry keys to a file called "sims.reg". (This file also serves as a backup of the serial numbers, since they are stored in the registry. I used to think the game would not play without these serial numbers, but some testing proved me wrong; they are only needed for installation. However, the rest of the registry information is pretty vital to the game.) The registry keys are saved easily by opening Regedit and exporting the appropriate branches, which I find by doing a registry search for "Sims". While I'm in the registry, I also change the paths for the music and sound files from the CD drive letter to the installation on the harddisk, which in my case is N:\Maxis\The Sims:

"SIMS_MUSIC"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims"
"SIMS_SOUND"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims\\SoundData"
For this to work, the Sound and Music subdirectories have to be copied from CD to disk first. This is necessary if you use a no-CD patch, and handy if your CD-ROM drive letter changes all the time, or you just don't want the CD accessed every time the game needs to play music files. There are also two files planted on C:\windows, "ereg.dat" and "secdrv04.dll"; they are regenerated each time the game is run, and can be ignored.

(Note: I've read somewhere that installing Superstar overwrites some sound and music files with corrupted versions, presumably to stop players using the no-CD patch. It certainly can't hurt to back them up before installation, just in case. The files in question are "sound.far" from ExpansionShared\Sound and "loadloop.wav" from Music\Modes\Load. These should be backed up in some other directory before installation, and moved back to their original location afterwards, overwriting the Superstar files.)

As I've found after a laptop crash and subsequent reinstallations, all expansion packs together plant something like 100Mb of installshield files on the C: drive. These files are not needed, as one should have to install the game only once per computer, after which the files can be backed up to an external drive in case of corruption. In fact, the game doesn't need to be installed more than once at all: install it to an external drive, hook up the drive to any computer and import the registry keys; handy for when you've got more machines running the Sims but don't want to constantly be synchronizing neighbourhood files between one computer and another. In any case, after installing all these packs, I saved the registry keys and restored a pre-installation image of the C: drive to clean it, after which I re-imported the keys.

Saving the registry keys also allows for a trick with multiple installations, on which more below.

Saving the neighbourhoods

All data needed for one neighbourhood is contained in the subdirectory Userdata[nn], where "nn" is an optional neighbourhood number between 2 and 99; neighbourhood 1 is simply called "UserData". That is why the Sims manual advises backing up neighbourhoods simply by saving the Userdata[nn] subdirectories to a different name and/or place. But there are some things to consider.

Firstly, you might want to back up the original neighbourhoods as they were after installation. This isn't necessary; they can be reinstalled from the CD. I do however backup one of the empty neighbourhoods to copy from if I want to create new neighbourhoods; it's faster than copying an inhabited neighbourhood and having to evict and bulldoze, and easier than renaming all used neighbourhoods to reinstall the original neighbourhoods.

Secondly, the UserData[nn] folders contain many files that don't need to be backed up. The UserData folder, especially, contains a folder Import, a folder Web Templates and, depending on version, a folder Other Web Templates. These are not part of the neighbourhood, and though the first one will generally be empty, the second two take up several MBs. Unleashed has Patch subdirectories all over the place in which it stores the FAM files of the original families and strays; these can be ignored (I wipe them immediately after installation). The same applies to BackupHouses introduced in Superstar. In all UserData directories, the (generally huge) folder WebPages should also not be copied; webpages can be regenerated from the families, houses and photo albums. Leaving out this space hog can make backups a lot smaller and faster!

So, what parts of the UserData[nn] folder should be copied? The folders Users and Houses (and PhotoAlbum if there's snapshots you want to keep) and the file neighborhood.iff. For higher packs, any other IFF files in the UserData[nn] folder like StreetNames.iff; they contain street names and house descriptions. The file options.iff stores game settings and isn't needed.

An optional one to save is the Export directory, containing the FAM files used for importing families into lots. FAM files are character and house files packed into one, and are automatically generated. If you don't have snapshots or ghosts you want to keep and don't mind losing all relationships with neighbours, you could keep the FAM files as backups, instead of the UserData[nn] directory. One warning: if any of the files that makes up the FAM is corrupt, the FAM will also be corrupt, and unusable. Corrupt houses are one cause of crashing neighbourhoods. I've had a corrupt house on lot 5, which I replaced with the original house IFF file (the house IFF can be replaced without losing the inhabitants, though they will be invisible until their icons are clicked) which I rebuilt back to the state where I'd lost it. If I'd relied on the FAM file as backup, I would have lost house and inhabitants.

UnPatching Unleashed

By that I mean getting rid of the families added in Unleashed, including the Strays. In the old Sims, the neighbourhood had a few families to get the user started. As neighbourhoods were added, neighbourhood 2 got its own houses and inhabitants, the other hoods were empty. From UL onwards, every extended neighbourhood got its set of standard characters. This meant that clones of Cassandra Goth's grandparents lived in neighbourhoods where she didn't even exist.

The first few times I installed UL, I bulldozered and deleted these extra's by hand. As far as I was concerned, they belonged only in UserData where the primordial Maxis-created Sims live, and which in any case is sacred, containing many files and directories that the other neighbourhoods make use of. But there is a much easier way to get rid of them: before starting the game for the first time, delete the Patch subdirectory in every UserData[n] directory where they're not wanted. Their houses will now remain empty when the neighbourhood is updated during its first load. Clicking on these houses the first time when playing the game will bring up an error message "Missing Objects". That's just the old inhabitants. Save the house, and the message won't appear again. (The import files from the Patch directories can also be found in TemplateFamilyUnleashed, so there's really no reason to keep them.)

One family from the Patch subdirectory worth keeping for import is the "Strays" one. This family of homeless pets creates a family number "4000" in the neighbourhood IFF, handy for custom objects that use this family to move Sims out of their own family. The Strays family, like other inbuilt NPC families (Townie, Strange) is not exported to a FAM file. I thought it was limited to 8 members, but the Townie, Strange and Somebody/Anybody families aren't, and adding one stray doesn't mean losing another. (The Townies are a limited family because each Townie, as opposed to the NPC families from higher expansion packs, is an IFF with its own GUID. I added two pets to a Townie family once, but they never showed up on any lots.)

Another subdirectory added in all UserData[n] directory when SS is installed, is BackupHouses. This looks like copies of the original houses in each neighbourhood, in case a "bad" game-crashing house needs to be replaced with a clean empty plot. These houses can also be found in one of the template subdirectories, so on my laptop, I deleted all the backup houses. This freed up a lot of space!

Options for the Mac

The PC game has a number of options - language and screen resolution being the most important - which can be set in the registry or passed on to the executable as arguments in a shortcut. Neither of these methods work for Macs. This I especially found a problem when trying to change the language. On the PC it's simply a matter of looking up the language key: "SIMS_LANGUAGE"="UKEnglish", I suppose, although I don't know the right value for changing to another language; I tried both language name and two-letter code, and neither works. (Putting "USEnglish" in the key "SIMS_OTHERLANGUAGE" added by UL did, however, solve the problem of mainly Vacation objects shown with an asterisk and no description in the catalogue because their UKEnglish string was left empty.) On the Mac, I found out, there is an unsupported language switch: press Shift-L immediately after double-clicking on the game icon, and a screen of languages comes up. This only works with LL from a certain revision, although the language setting applies to all Sims installations on disk, regardless of version.

The Mac version of the PC registry and run-time values is a file called "The Sims Prefs", or, for the German version, "Die Sims Prefs", and other-language versions may have yet a different filename. Under MacOS9 and below, this file is located in System Folder/Preferences; MacOSX has one file per user, in /Users/[name]/Library/Preferences. Up to UL, this file has four bytes. (I've heard SS adds an option to play full-screen or windowed, and possibly more.) The first byte can be 00 or 01 and toggles whether the settings dialog is shown at startup; 01 is yes, 00 is no. The second byte toggles screen resolution: 00 is 800x600, 01 is 1024x768. The third is the language setting. The fourth is probably the choice of monitor, a setting disabled on my computer because that only has one monitor. Changing the language in any version can be done simply by opening this file in a hex editor and changing the third byte to the language value. The language numbers are (this list is based on speculation and my attempts to set the language to German, but it should work):

01 USEnglish  
02 UKEnglish  
03 French  
04 German  
05 Italian  
06 Spanian  
07 Dutch
08 Danish (UL)
09 Swedish
0A Norwegian (UL)
0B Finnish (UL)
0C Hebrew (unused)
0D Russian (unused)
0E Portuguese  
0F Japanese  
10 Polish  
11 Traditional Chinese  
12 Simplified Chinese  
13 Thai  
14 Korean 

"UL" means languages added in Unleashed, while "unused" means that translations for these languages weren't added at all, even though space was reserved for them.

The reason I was so desperate to change the language was that I'd bought UL for the Mac, but it was a German version, and refused to install over my US-English installations, giving me the German equivalent of "Cannot locate a match for a search specified by this installer". Mac expansion packs, unlike PC expansion packs, only want to install over something in their own language, which is silly as the game comes with built-in multi-language support. But installers are easy to fool. I copied one installation to a directory "Die Sims", and also renamed the Sims executable to "Die Sims". Unleashed, or rather "Tierisch gut drauf" as the German version was called, installed without problem over this renamed installation, until the moment it asked for the original "Die Sims" CD, which of course I didn't have, to finish updating the game. So that failed, but my second attempt, with a House Party installation renamed to "Party ohne Ende" succeeded. Changing the game language even proved unnecessary to the installation: my language is now English again, and each time UL (or, TDG) starts, I briefly see the "Tierisch gut drauf" opening screen, replaced by the "Unleashed" screen as the game switches to the language set in the Prefs file.

CD protection

And by "protection" I don't mean the copy protection Maxis uses on its game CDs (SafeDisc 2, impossible to burn direct copies even with burners that read a CD accurately). I mean, making backups, and getting round the copy protection if necessary, in order to use the originals as little as possible.

My favourite solution, which saves wear on the drive as well as the CD, is a disk image. A program like CloneCD will write to harddisk a perfect copy of the CD, with iffy sectors intact. A program like Daemon Tools will mount this image as if it was a real CD-ROM in a real drive. The CD-ROM isn't used for the game anyway; it contains the music files (and that huge, irritating intro file, without which the game won't run) but otherwise is just one big dongle. One caveat: The Sims will only look in the drive from which it was installed. So for this method, it has to be installed off the mounted image, and the virtual drive should not change its drive letter. (NB. Of course this only applies to the last expansion pack installed, of which the CD must be in the drive when the game starts. Re-installing Deluxe, adding Hot Date and Vacation and re-installing Unleashed, I used the original CDs for every game except Unleashed, which I installed off the images I'd already cloned. I'd hate to have to clone every Sims CD, and all those images would take a big bite out of my drive space.)

That's what I use on the PC. Not knowing how to do this on the Mac, I just burned copies of the originals, and use those. The PC releases, or the first CD if the release consists of two CDs, are copy-protected in such a way that the only way to burn usable copies is to make an image and then convert that image with something like Playback. Of the three Mac releases I have, only The Sims is copy-protected and uncopyable, the two expansion packs can easily be duplicated. This makes sense as, on the one hand, the expansion packs only work with The Sims installed, and on the other hand, the game wants only the latest CD in the drive to run, so the CD for The Sims is only used once and doesn't need to be backed up. That is, unless I want to play The Sims without expansions. But with no expansions at all, the game is too dull and limited for me. (I don't know if Mac releases after House Party have copy protection; Unleashed doesn't, so probably no expansion pack does.)

A third option is the no-CD patch. Surfing for "no-CD Sims" with any search engine will bring up many pages having or claiming to have no-CD patches for the Sims. Warning: pages that claim to have cracks for the Sims and other games in one huge .exe file and will even download and install that file for you if you don't click them shut fast enough, are probably cracker sites hoping to infect the computers of gullible users. Sadly, reputable sites have had to move their hacks around or take them down after warnings from Maxis. This while there are perfectly good reasons to use no-CD patches: no wear on the originals, not every computer has a CD drive (for instance, old laptops, usually communicating with desktop computers via serial/USB etc.), the game files are not (as in the old days of smaller harddisks) played off CD, but a broken CD drive does mean you can't play the game until an irrelevant piece of hardware is replaced. Lastly, people like myself who frequently switch parts between their collection of computers do NOT want to reinstall a game just because the HD has been moved to a newer computer with a different CD drive letter. Big gamer sites with hacks and FAQs for most currently sold computer games are most likely to have real no-CD patches hidden somewhere in their huge directory systems.

So what does the no-CD patch do? Well, the only executable file in a Sims installation is "sims.exe". This file first checks if the CD-ROM is in the drive (the right drive, if there's more than one) and then runs the game. The no-CD patch skips this check. Since there are two directories on files that are run off CD - Sound and Music - these have to be copied to disk, and their paths changed in the registry (see "Saving the keys" above). There are no-CD patches for just about every Sims version on the PC, and I've even found one for Livin' Large for the Mac. The no-CD patch does have one drawback: it can't be updated. Maxis produces updates for its various versions which, among other things, patch "sims.exe", which they can only do to the original, non-hacked executable. Each patched "sims.exe" has to be individually re-hacked to make a no-CD patch for that version. Fortunately, the hackers keep up with the bugfixes. For the adventurous individual who doesn't want to wait, there appears to be something called an Unsafedisc kit. All this is of course terribly illegal: as illegal as getting round copy protections for the perfectly legal purpose of making personal backups.

Parallel installations

There are several reasons to want two or more autonomous Sims installations on one computer:

On the Mac, having more installations is terribly easy. Simply copy the Sims directory to a directory with a different name, or rename the existing directory, and do another install. Don't forget to update the aliases. ("Alias" is Macspeak for "shortcut". ^_^)

On the PC, there is the problem that all path information concerning the Sims is laid down in the registry. Naturally, the EA helpdesk said it wasn't possible to have two Sims installations side by side. HA! Here's what I did, other people can adapt this example to their own situation:

My example shows how to switch between Deluxe and Unleashed. I play off images, so I made batch files for Daemon Tools to mount the Deluxe image and the Unleashed image, and put those on the Desktop. Then, I installed Deluxe (from the mounted image!) to N:\Maxis\The Sims. I copied the Sound and Music subdirectories and changed their paths in the registry, then saved the registry keys to a ".reg" file, all as explained above. Then I duplicated this directory to the parallel directory, N:\Maxis\The Sims Deluxe. Then, I mounted the Unleashed image and installed Unleashed over Deluxe, into N:\Maxis\The Sims, again copying Sound and Music as explained above, and stored the registry keys to "sims.reg": this is the file I'll be keeping as backup. It contains: registration/version info for Deluxe; the same for Unleashed; and paths to files necessary for the games. I then compare the old and new .reg files for the lines that have stayed the same - ie. the paths to the game files - and copy & paste these to a file "unleashed.reg". Then I copy this file to "deluxe.reg", open "deluxe.reg" and change "The Sims" in all the paths to "The Sims Deluxe". This is what I end up with:

deluxe.reg:

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Sims.exe]
"Path"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
@="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe\\Sims.exe"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Maxis\The Sims]
"SIMS_MUSIC"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"SIMS_SOUND"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe\\SoundData"
"SIMS_DATA"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"InstallPath"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"SIMS_GAME_EDITION"="17"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_NUM"="6"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_PATH"="UserData6"

unleashed.reg:

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Sims.exe]
"Path"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims"
@="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims\\Sims.exe"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Maxis\The Sims]
"SIMS_MUSIC"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims"
"SIMS_SOUND"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims\\SoundData"
"SIMS_DATA"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims"
"InstallPath"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims"
"SIMS_GAME_EDITION"="49"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_NUM"="9"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_PATH"="UserData9"

The game edition number is important - else, the game might try to delete or reinstall its files - and the neighbourhood number had better be included, because I don't even have a neighbourhood 9 in Deluxe, and I don't want the game crashing because it's trying to load from a nonexistent directory. (Incidentally, I've experimented with this on the Mac, and the Mac version, at least, doesn't crash over missing neighbourhoods.) Changing this key is also a handy way of starting a game that keeps crashing because its last neighbourhood had corrupt files (bad downloads from the Exchange, for instance); set the number and path to a "clean" directory.

Finally, I make two shortcuts, one for The Sims\Sims.exe and one for The Sims Deluxe\Sims.exe. These .reg files and shortcuts go to the Desktop, along with the image-mounting batch files. Now all I have to do to start one of the installations is mount the right image, double-click the .reg file to change the registry keys, and use the right shortcut.

Addendum! For experimenting purposes, I installed the original Livin' Large alongside Deluxe. Now Deluxe and upwards uses the "SIMS_GAME_EDITION" key to determine what game version(s) is/are installed, but The Sims, LL and HP use "Version" and count the number of expansion packs installed. Moreover, including House party in the Unleashed installation changed the game version number to a d-word value, and I had to update my .reg files accordingly. The LL .reg file reads as follows:

ll.reg:

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Sims.exe]
"Path"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL"
@="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL\\Sims.exe"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Maxis\The Sims]
"SIMS_MUSIC"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL"
"SIMS_SOUND"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL\\SoundData"
"SIMS_DATA"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL"
"InstallPath"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims LL"
"Version"="1.2"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_NUM"="3"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_PATH"="UserData3"
"EPInstalled"="1"
"EP2Installed"=""
"EP3Installed"=""
"EP4Installed"=""
"EP5Installed"=""
"EPDInstalled"=""

Note all the "EP[]installed" keys; I've had to set all my installed expansion packs higher than LL to zero. Obviously I'd better fill them again for the Deluxe and Unleashed files (I'm showing the Deluxe .reg as an example):

deluxe.reg:

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Sims.exe]
"Path"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
@="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe\\Sims.exe"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Maxis\The Sims]
"SIMS_MUSIC"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"SIMS_SOUND"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe\\SoundData"
"SIMS_DATA"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"InstallPath"="N:\\Maxis\\The Sims Deluxe"
"SIMS_GAME_EDITION"="17"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_NUM"="6"
"SIMS_CURRENT_NEIGHBORHOOD_PATH"="UserData6"
"EPInstalled"="1"
"EP2Installed"="1"
"EP3Installed"="1"
"EP4Installed"="1"
"EP5Installed"="1"
"EPDInstalled"="1"
"Version"="1.2"

The "Version" key is used by The Sims and LL, but later expansion packs which use "SIMS_GAME_EDITION" probably ignore it.

WARNING!! When doing anything that requires a "clean" registry, it's safer to look up and delete the Sims-related entries by hand, than to use SimsEraser. Usually, this tool won't cause trouble, but I've had it mess up the registry to such an extent that every time I tried to start Windows, I got a message saying the registry was bad and I should restart to load the previous registry. It soon became obvious that no amount of restarting was going to repair the registry, so I restored a pre-Sims backup. If I hadn't had that backup, I would have had to format the drive and reinstall Windows.

Pack markers

Each version pack installed puts its own "ranger" file in the GameData directory: "ranger.iff" for LL, "ranger2.iff" to "ranger7.iff" for HP to MM, "rangerD.iff" for Deluxe, and I don't know if Double Deluxe adds anything more. These files point the Sims executable, which is programmed to load game and FAR files only from certain directories, to the subdirectories added by installing that expansion pack.

Where the Mac has to keep track of the expansion packs installed purely through the "ranger" files, the PC again relies in the registry to know what was installed and when to flash the warning that an earlier expansion pack was installed over a later one, and a re-install is needed. Before HD/Deluxe, this is done with the "Version" key; after that, this key is ignored and its place taken by "SIMS_GAME_EDITION". To pull the multiple installations trick described above, it is necessary to know how this key works.

What it does is add the binary values of all packs installed. These values are:
The Sims: nothing
LL: 1
HP: 2
HD: 4
Vac: 8
Del: 16 (plus 1 for the inbuilt LL, always makes 17)
UL: 32
SS: 64
MM: 128

So when Deluxe alone is installed, the value is 17. Add HP, and the value becomes 19. When all packs are installed, the value is 255.

Debug mode

Putting "-debug_objects" in the executable command line starts the game in debug mode. Like the "skip intro" option, this is only usable in a Windows installation. It can be really useful to find out what object is slowing or crashing the game. When an internal error occurs, a dialog pops up asking me if I want to Cancel (the ongoing action, I assume), Reset (the usual outcome of an error condition) or Delete. The third choice deletes the offending object from the premises (and the physical IFF, I recall) while both Cancel and Reset can cause loops, obliging me to use Ctrl-Alt-Delete, but Reset is the safer option and prevents unwanted file deletions. The dialog also gives the name of the error report written to the game directory.





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