World Adventures, lags, bugs and custom content Print
Written by CriCri Monday, 30 November 2009 14:03
Ever since we started with Sims2Cri, we have never limited ourselves to create contents and let you download them without telling you how to use them and how things work. The Sims 3 has simply made things worse for creators. We've been testing files for days and we haven't drawn a defined conclusion yet, but  we're going to talk about issues you may encounter, how to solve them and what it actually means for the game when you download files.

How the installation of custom content works in The Sims 3

First off, a short preamble is needed. You all know the Mods/Packages folder and Resource.cfg thing, don't you? Well, this is a process that forces the game to do something it wasn't created for. It forces the game to read the Mods folder while loading, and in this way it can read your custom content installed in the previously named folders. The game was created to read .sims3pack files, after their installation via game launcher. I know this may sound difficult, so let's see what happened with The Sims 2 and what happens now with The Sims 3. I know you don't care about how the process works, but this introduction is needed in order to understand what we'll say later.

The Sims 2 The Sims 3
Sims2Pack: is the default format for custom content. You can install these files by double clicking on them and they will be installed in the appropriate folders, among which in My Documents/Downloads. If you just place .sims2pack items in your Download folder, nothing happens. The game doesn't read these files and they do not show up in the game. They must be installed manually, outside the game. The can be installed via game installer or, for exemple, via Sims2Pack Clean Installer. When you install lots in .sims2pack format, the lot file creates another file in the LotCatalog folder, without which it doesn't show up in the game. Sims3Pack: just like The Sims 2's .sims2pack, this is the default file format. They can be installed by double clicking on them or via game launcher if you place them in My Documents/Downloads. When you install a .sims3pack:
  • a copy of the .sims3pack file is created in the Downloads folder
  • the .package content is placed in the DCBackup folder, but only for a back-up copy. These files are not used by the game.
  • a .dbc index file that features the real CC within the DCache folder is updated
Package: it is the format the game reads. Since .sims2pack files are made up of this kind of files, when you place a .package file in your Downloads folder, you force the game to load it, but do not force it to do something it wasn't created for. The game itself has already been programmed to load contents from the Downloads folder. Thanks to EPs such as Nightlife, it has also been possible to create subfolders and organize everything you downloaded. Package: it is always a format read by the game, but only as a "resource". It is different from The Sims 2 (and that's why old files do not work for The Sims 3). Modders have found a way to force the game to read these files, by placing a file named Resource.cfg and a Mods/Packages folder in the same directory the game is installed. This makes the game do something different than it would normally do. It wasn't built to load these files, and the way it is forced to do that is the same the game follows to load the default items (such as Buy/Build mode files).
Default replacement: these files replace the original game files, for example skintones, eyes, etc. These files are in .package format and need to be placed in the Downloads folder, as usual. They do not overwrite the default files, but when you load the game and it reads the Downloads folders, files with the same ID of the game are temporarily replaced. Just remove them from the Downloads folder (and delete the cache files), and the game is back as new. Avoid default replacements that require to overwrite default files. Default replacement: these files replace the original game files. For example skintones, eyes, etc. These files are in .package format and need to be placed in the Mods/Packages folder, as usual. They do not overwrite the default files, but when you load the game and it reads the Downloads folders, files with the same ID of the game are temporarily replaced.  Just remove them from the Mods/Packages folder (and delete the cache files), and the game is back as new. Avoid default replacements that require to overwrite default files.

Now that we have seen how CC is managed, we can explain a lot of things. You have probably understood that by installing .package files, you force the game to do something it wasn't born for. In many sites of the international community there are discussions about custom content and the best way to create it. Honestly, we've always abstained ourselves from going into the merits of the question, including in the diatribe between free and pay sites. We have always been and will always be a free site, and we simply don't care about what other sites do. We are thankful for what they've done by building programs and finding ways to create contents, no matter what their opinion was. However, we do not want you to misunderstand our choice. This is the reason behind this long article.

The matter is that at the moment, after World Adventures or patch 1.7/2.2, installing .package file is not safe and advisable. This is the reason why we're trying to offer our .package files in a different format and testing them. The game is not stable with .package files. Nobody questions that The Sims 3 and its EPs are buggy, but forcing it to do something it shouldn't do surely doesn't help. At the moment, the best choice you can make when creating CC is using the .sims3pack format. This is not about making things easier or avoid troubles, it is wisdom and people should admit their mistakes. Package files don't work, they cause issues and the game behaves differently each time. If you keep reading, we're going to analyze these behaviors.


We have suggestes our users to play World Adventures/patch 1.7/2.2 without CC when loading the game for the first time. If you did so, you have probably noticed that once you placed your downloads back, the game started to be buggy and/or the loading time has increased.
What we have written in the previous page is useful to understand the following. If you have .package file, while loading the game reads everything and searches for files in every subfolders, adding each entry it finds. In this way, all the Cache files you can find in your documents (simCompositorCache.package, CompositorCache.package, ScriptCache.package, CASPartCache.package) increase their size. Well, now you play the game and everything works fine. Then you want your Sim to travel and the game loads again to open the holiday destination. Since it is loading, it reads again each file, among which there are your packages in the Mods/Packages folder. So cache files increase again. This happens because the game "thinks" they are its files, and sees them as essential game data. Moreover, from the informatics point of view, many single files can be different parts of the same disk. For example, in your closet you have many single pieces of clothing, but they can be stored into drawers, shelves, etc. So, disks work anyway, but each piece of information can be quite far from the other. Hence, while the game loads, it needs some time (little time, but still additional time) to find all the files in your disk. That's the reason why there is a defragmentation procedure among the Windows utilities, that basically collects each piece of information and stores them in closer parts of the disk. This is explained in a very simple way and for the non-informatics, things are a bit different technically, but that's the essence.

Now, let's see a few examples emerged during our tests (all of the below have been done with .package files, not ,sims3pack):
    1. Loading time without CC and cache files
    • loading time until the main menu: 40 seconds
    • time needed to load a family (let's say, until your family): 1 min
    2. Loading time with only patterns (2.36mb, 18 files, 1 folder) and default replacements (24.8mb - 8 files)
    • Until the main menu: 1 min
    • Until your family: 1.30 min
    • Loading France: 1.30 min
    • SimCompositorCache.package after loading a save -> 8635kb / after loading France -> 27664kb/ after quitting the game -> 27699kb
    • CompositorCache.package after loading a save -> 8437kb / after loading France -> 9124kb / after quitting the game -> 9133kb
    3. Loading time with hairstyles (202mb - 125 files - 52 subfolders)
    • Until the main menu: 30 seconds
    • Until your family: 1.10 min
    • Loading France: 1.30 min
    • SimCompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 50500kb
    • CompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 9157kb
    4. Loading time with hairstyles (202mb - 125 files - 52 subfolders), clothes (20.2mb, 14 files, 2 folders), shoes (8.98mb, 6 files, 3 subfolders), makeup (464kb, 10 files, 4 subfolders)
    • Until the main menu: 32 seconds
    • Until your family: 1.25 min
    • Loading France: 1.38 min
    • SimCompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 156654kb
    • CompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 26762kb
    5. Loading time with buy mode items (151mb, 118 files, 15 subfolders)
    • Until the main menu: 28 seconds
    • Loading a brand new family: 43 seconds
    • Loading France: 1.52 min
    • SimCompositorCache.package before loading France -> 8kb/ after quitting the game -> 1298kb
    • CompositorCache.package before loading France -> 6854kb / after quitting the game -> 7300kb
    6. Loading time with buy mode items (207mb, 255 files, 40 subfolders)
    • Until the main menu: 30 seconds
    • Until your family: 1.34 min
    • Loading back home from France: 2.24min
    • SimCompositorCache.package before loading France -> 2755kb/ after quitting the game -> 3228kb
    • CompositorCache.package before loading France -> 7866kb / after quitting the game -> 11416kb
    7. Loading time with buy mode items (207mb, 255 files, 40 subfolders) + hairstyles (202mb, 125 files, 52 subfolders) + shoes (8.98mb, 6 files, 3 subfolders)
    • Until the main menu: 1.15 min
    • Until your family: 2.50 min
    • SimCompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 3587kb
    • CompositorCache.package after quitting the game -> 4097kb
      Now, you can clearly see how the loading time and the cache file size increase when placing files in the Mods/Package folder. These are few examples, but the more files you add, the longer it takes to load. For this reason, using .package files is not plain wrong and causes issues, but can be the source of your troubles, without a doubt. At this moment in time, the best choice is checking for .sims3pack versions of your files, use them and keep a very few .package files, just the ones you can't do without - and check if they do not cause issues to your game.



      It has already been tested that many .package files cause issues to the game. In the following list you will find some fo them. A very useful list can be found on the Custom Sims 3 forum, in this thread.

      Files that are not compatible with World Adventures

      • Rick's NoCensor File: not compatible with WA. Other than removing the censorship blur, it also removes new interactions of this EP, such as traps warnings, bugs, etc. You must replace it with the updated version for World Adventures made by RothChild
      • Unlock hidden traits: this hack to unlock hidden traits is not compatible, and if you keep it, you won't be able to choose new traits for your Sims, nor to see other existing Sims'.
      • File that cause the game to show blue objects:
        • Lemoncandy floor plants: fig tree
        • Mutske counter top windows
        • SimsTrasTos basket of eggs: sthuevosblan.package
        • Police car
        • Lemoncandy Indoor plants: most of them have been updated, download them again
        • Yogi-Tea_FoosballTable
        • Leesester_WindowMissionCounter Height.package
        • mango-s3-imary-etagerewallbaskets.package
        • cII_MissionFireplace
        • JS_blondmermaid_BeeBabyRoom_crib e JS_blondmermaid_BeeBabyRoom_shelves (Vitasims' baby room)
        • Stylist_Sims_Livingroom_01_palm.package
        • JS_blondmermaid_JeffersaonLivingSet_Plant, JS_blondmermaid_JeffersonLivingset_Plant2, JS_blondmermaid_JeffersonSet_Orchids, JS_blondmermaid_JeffersonSet_OrchidsPink
        • Desdren shelf DSD02.package
        • Lulamai: luna_rip.package, luna_trajedemadera2.package, luna_sedespert√≥.package, luna_descansenpaz.package, luna_suiteterna.package, luna_trajedemadera.package
        • These files are only a few that have been verified as non compatible, but probably there are many more. So, if you see blue objects, cubes, squares, etc. remove your CC and do some testing.
      • Beware from hacks, expecially those that help gaining skills, finding seeds, fishes, etc. Check for updates on the author's site and if you experience issues, REMOVE THEM.

      Files that should be compatible with World Adventures

      • .Sims3Pack files
      • Patterns, but if you have a lot of them you will experience poor game performance. Choose the .sims3pack version where available.
      You should test your files, check them and remove them when needed. You have to do a few tries. World Adventures introduced a bunch of new things to do, and issues are always on the doorstep. Also, a lot of objects have been realized and are currently being tested, so we're all relatively unexperienced with CC. If you notice some blue items, it's surely not compatible and must be removed.

      Remember that removing items from the Mods/Packages folder is not enough. You have to delete the cache files in My Documents/Electronic Arts/The Sims 3, that are:
      • SimCompositorCache.package
      • CompositorCache.package
      • CASPartCache.package
      • ScriptCache.package
      • in case, delete the Thumbnails folder

      Apart from the issues caused by CC, the game does have a few oddities but we don't know if they're bugs or game features:
      • Once you explore a tomb with a family and visit it again with another family, it appears as already visited and explored. This is gross and tiring, as it looks like we can only explore with one family, even if treasures are replaced. The only way to avoid that is using new saves.
      • Leftovers go bad very quickly: remove all your downloaded fridges, try with defaults only and replace your fridge with a new one. Sometime it fixes the bug. If it doesn't, be patient and hope for a new patch.
      • Family inventory issues: some players have experienced troubles when placing objects. As we said before, remove your CC, try with new saves, etc. If you keep having this issue, then it's probably a bug and might be fixed.
      • Closed shops or missing cashiers: when you visit a holiday destination, it may happen to find a store closed, so you cannot purchase any item. First, check if the merchants are outside the shop, sometimes it happens. Then, try to go to another lot, save the game and get back to the market. If you still can't buy anything, open the cheat box, type testingcheatsenabled true then click on the ground holding the SHIFT key. Now choose the Buy option. Click on the Buy mode icon in your control panel. Grab a new cash machine and replace the old one. Then, go back to the Live mode and save. If the merchant still doesn't appear, go again to another lot, save and go back to the market. Now you should be able to find the dealer.
      • Remember to update your drivers, make sure your PC is not overheated, etc. Many issues are due to this.

      What we would like you to do is be patient and even if it's boring, please try to play without CC. They were realized only for a hobby, and as such, they may be buggy and no update is due. When it is made, you have to be thankful to the author. Personally, I've cursed the game a lot of times while testing files, it's so frustrating to see that each time things behave in a different way. EA creates its game and cannot take into account all the things we want to install. As I said in the past, I did expected much more from them, but nothing matters now.

      During my tests, I found a lot of removed files yet still active in the game, as I hadn't deleted the cache file. In this way it looked like the game was loading faster. Then I've tried again and it didn't worked anymore. You can try yourselves, if it works it's good for you. Probably, the first time it worked as my cache file size was huge, or maybe I've dreamed everything in a "testing delirium".

      How to organize your downloads

      • If you download sims3packs, keep the original files stored in a folder and divided into categories with a picture for each file. In this way, you will be able to get back to the author's site in case of troubles or check for updates. Once you have installed them, you can remove their copies in the Downloads and DCBackup folders. If you delete the DCCache folder, you'll remove everything you installed.
      • If you download .package files, keep them divided into subfolders, without reaching too many levels, place images, links to the author's site, etc. In this way you are able to try several files of the same kind, as .package files are giving a lot of troubles. If you have a small amount of .package files (I mean, well-done files), the game has no issues. If you're thinking about adding a hundred on them, troubles may be awaiting.

      Things you should know about Sims3Packs

      • They didn't cause any issue during our tests
      • They are the game's default file format, and once you install them, they are added to a sort of index file stored in the DCCache folder.
      • The game recognizes as custom contents only  files created in this format. So, when you export this kind of files, you will find attached patterns and other items installed in this format. This doesn't always happen with .package files.

      Conclusions

      As we said, the .package format doesn't work or better, it doesn't work fine. For this reason, to avoid troubles and since from our poll you stated to prefer sims3packs, we will support this format and try to offer all our contents in this format. When possible, we'll give you the opportunity to download the other version too, but please notice that you will find sims3packs as our default files. We're doing this for your and not our benefit, and not because we want to destroy your game using TSR's Workshop (which actually is the only utility that supports this kind of files). We want you to experience as less issues as possible, and at this moment in time this seems to be the best way. If we have other utilities that support sims3packs, we'll try and use them, but for now we can only use the Workshop. However, if you really don't want to use .sims3pack files, you can always extract their .package contents using Sims3Pack Multi installer. Not always the game has issues with packages, but try not to install too many of them. If you keep a small amount of them and prefer sims3packs, you should be ok.
      Last Updated on Sunday, 08 August 2010 02:30