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Friday, August 11, 2000

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On Sims Objects and Add-Ons
3:45 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Recently Mac publisher Aspyr Media began to release Mac-friendly downloads of objects for their port of Maxis' The Sims, a unique 'life in a tank' title. Such conversions seemed necessary, as the objects on the official Sims web site are in a self-expanding PC format. Today they released two new downloads, a model of the White House (complete with intern!) and a slot machine -- the two seem to go together, do they not? Here are the details on these downloads:

Download Americas best known home, the White House (396K). It comes
complete with your own, CIA agent, INS agent, ATF agent, FBI agent
and...Intern agent (she looks familiar). The house replaces the big
house currently at 2 Sims Lane and the news agent family's income makes
buying a sport. The White House is the perfect addition for your
political Sims!

And last but not least, bringing a good old-fashioned vice into your
home, download your very own Viva PGT Home Casino (604K). Not only will
this goodie make you next party a hit, it might just get a slob Sim off
his butt and generating some income, the pay-off is 10-1 (better than Las
Vegas). The slot machine can only be used by adult Sims and please note
that Pine Gultcher Technologies (PGT) is not liable for loss of
friends, family, money, profits or opportunity, indirect, special,
inconsequential or incremental.

Unfortunately, these files are still not available on the Aspyr web site, and the FPT server hosting the released objects seems to have hit its hard transfer limit.

Several astute IMG readers have pointed out in our Forums that such Mac-specific downloads are not entirely necessary -- many PC sites have Sims downloads in the ".zip" format, which is easily expandible by several Mac utilities. Also, objects in the ".exe" format can be expanded by Stuffit Expander and Stuffit Deluxe, simply by changing the prefix on the end of the file to ".zip." However, .exe files must be downloaded correctly -- download them as Source, not as Text.

However, this is only the first step. Once your download is expanded, it is likely to be a collection of strangely-named files. Installing should be fairly simple, but it is not as simple as dragging the folder to the Downloads folder. After all, the reason the file was in .exe (executable) format in the first place is that it has a script-driven installer.

Inanimate objects such as furniture and decorative objects are a snap -- just drop the resulting ".iff" file in the Downloads folder inside your Sims folder, and it should show up in the appropriate category the next time you use Buy mode. The Moose Head and houseplants are examples of such objects.

Objects that require animation or sound, however, are more complex to install. Expanding the .exe file results in a folder and several files, one of them usually called "script.txt". If you are lucky, you should be able to install this object simply by dragging the folder into the Downloads folder and ignoring the extra files; however this does not work for more complex objects, such as the Slot Machine. You can attempt to decipher the script file and determine where the individual files need to be installed, if you are familiar with MS-DOS path descriptions. In general the more complex the object, the less likely it will work without being properly installed in this fashion. Such objects will require an actual conversion by Aspyr to work correctly.

Skins, as several of our readers discovered, are not a simple drag-and-drop either; some skins when downloaded and placed in the appropriate folder will end up on the wrong body -- for instance, a swimsuit skin on the female body which has a shape for wearing a skirt. Again, these have to be downloaded as "source"; they will end up as ".bmp" files. These are placed in the Textures folder inside the GameData folder, not in the Skins folder or Downloads folder.

Most skins should work just fine -- but a few will end up on the wrong body (or on the wrong head, which looks really odd!). Luckily a currently unknown author has created Simsformac.com, which has an excellent tutorial which explains the naming convention behind the skins. Although it is too complex to go into here, the sex and body model that a skin will go on is encoded in the name of the skin itself; if a skin shows up on the wrong body, you have to correct the name to fix this.

As for Houses, these are problematic and complex installations. Not only do they involve overwriting one of your existing houses, but they may contain references to objects that you don't have installed, resulting in errors. Until a complete tutorial for installing houses is created, we don't recommend downloading and installing third-party maps unless from Aspyr.

The Sims 00
Sims Skins for Mac Tutorial
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims
Buy The Sims

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