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Where to find good 'The Sims 3' custom content
Computer and Video Games in general
Member Name: thereddragon
Computer and Video Games in general
Date: 20/07/10, updated on 20/07/10 (40 review reads)
Advantages: A disappointing entry in the 'Sims' series can be made more fun and creative
The Sims 3, the latest in the 'Sims' series of life simulator games from EA Games, was released in early June 2009 to great anticipation. However, the new release was disappointing to avid fans of The Sims 2 as it was notably lacking in basic content such as hair styles, clothing styles and household objects which even The Sims 2 base game had more of. The place to turn to find solutions for these dilemmas is, as always, the large collection of Sims custom content sites.
Custom content developers soon discovered that this new iteration of the Sims was coded in a different way from The Sims 2 and that creating new content was going to take some time to figure out. At first, most custom content consisted of houses and community lots, as the building component of the game is the only one that remains the same. New community lots are especially useful, as most community lots that come with the game are 'rabbit holes'; that is, your Sims vanish into them and you are no longer able to observe them as they dine out or go out for drinks as you were able to do in earlier Sims games. Now, when you send your Sims to these lots, they disappear and you are simply presented with an empty floor plan and no Sims.
In its unmodded straight-out-of-the box form, it is also much harder to create a Sim that looks like who you want it to look like than it was in The Sims 2. The applet 'Bodyshop' which came with The Sims 2 no longer exists in The Sims 3. Gamers now have to rely on the rather limited facial feature sliders in Create A Sim to try to achieve a likeness, as opposed to being able to create a face in Photoshop and then import it into Bodyshop as previously. Creating a true likeness is difficult because the default face in The Sims 3 is a large double-chinned 'pudding face' and this is very hard to defeat. If the person you are trying to represent has a moon face and double chin, you're fine. Otherwise, it's a problem.
However, see below for two must-have items that have now been made by expert modders: Facial Slider Hacks (part of The Awesomemod, discussed below), which enables enhanced facial sculpting, and the CAS Texture Unitool which enables you to make custom facial overlays as well as clothing, accessories and all other CAS items, just like Bodyshop.
As far as new clothing styles, hair styles and objects are concerned, creating and importing meshes (wireframes) for these items was found to be more challenging than in The Sims 2 at first, but thankfully various creators soon figured it out and now that the process has been streamlined, there's loads of great custom content of every type imaginable.
Here are some great places for free Sims 3 custom content:
1. MOD THE SIMS (formerly Mod the Sims 2) http://www.modthesims.info/
I'm a creator at Mod The Sims (as 'EsmeraldaF') - it's by far the best Sims custom site I've ever come across and I find it absolutely indispensable. As well as quickly-increasing numbers of Sims 3 items, they also have a massive amount of Sims 2 content, worth a look if you are still playing The Sims 2.
Moderation there is very strong, with strict quality control on what they will accept as uploads, so you are assured that the custom content you'll find there is of a good standard. In the Sims 3 subsection of their Downloads section, you will find a massive selection of Sims, clothing, hairs, makeup, accessories, houses and community lots, objects, mods, new worlds (neighborhoods), and other goodies.
If you want to make your own clothing, accessories and face overlays, try their CAS Texture Unitool: http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=364926 . This brilliant tool gives you the functionality of Bodyshop, and more besides - you can also export and import custom meshes, and change categories, ages and genders of clothing, hair and accessories. You use this in a similar way to Bodyshop by exporting the textures of the item, working on it in Photoshop, re-importing it back in, and then saving as a .package file to copy into your game. The interface is not as intuitive or user-friendly as Bodyshop was, but once you get the hang of it, it's a godsend. It's really easy to use once you know how.
You have to be sure you have Microsoft's .NET Framework 2.0 (Windows XP) or 3.5 (Vista/Win7) installed on your PC, or else it will crash when you try to save your work (as I found out the hard way!). It can also be used on Macs - instructions are on the Unitool's upload page. You also need the NVidia Photoshop plugin, as the files are in .dds format which Photoshop does not include (http://developer.nvidia.com/object/photoshop_dds_ plugins.html ).
As a creator myself, I've used it with great success. I've created clothing, face overlays, 'Hat hairs' (for regular hairs, use another of their easy to use tools, 'DABOOBS', to package your hair meshes and textures: http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=358682 ) (I should probably point out that DABOOBS stands for 'Delphy's Acronym Bending Original Output Barber Shop', Delphy being its creator), eyes, and all sorts of accessories with it.
If you want to create objects, they also provide tools for packaging those. They're a bit techie and may look daunting at first, but again, once you get used to them, they're very easy to use. S3pe (Sims 3 package editor) will let you package them up (http://forums.modthesims.info/showthread.php?t=36 2412 ), and s3oc (Sims 3 object cloner) extracts the object from the game that you want to make a clone of, and then fixes your new package to enable it to be imported into the game (http://forums.modthesims.info/showthread.php?t=36 2413 ). I use these for creating all of my new custom objects.
2. MY SIMS 3 BLOG (http://mysims3blog.blogspot.com/)
This amazing site consists of a huge updated-daily compilation of the best new items that the site owners have found across numerous custom content sites, with pictures and links to each item. They really work hard to keep up to date and provide you with thousands and thousands of quality items all gathered in one place - this site is absolutely essential!
3. MORE AWESOME THAN YOU (http://www.moreawesomethanyou.com)
They have created a big mod called The Awesomemod which fixes many of the bugs in the game, allows you to turn off unwanted features, and many other useful tweaks, my three favourites being a Facial Slider hack which enables you to make the facial sliders travel up to five times further, the ability to edit your sims in CAS after you've created them and put them in game, and the ability to REALLY turn off Story Progression: http://www.moreawesomethanyou.com/smf/index.php/to pic,15185.0.html.
I use this mod myself, have had no problems with it, and would not want to be without it!
4. MISCELLANEOUS SMALLER SITES
These are my pick of a few more sites that also provide quality Sims 3 content:
Garden of Shadows: http://www.digitalperversion.net/gardenofshadows/i ndex.php
XM Sims: http://www.xmsims.com/sims3/ehtm/main/index.html
All About Style: http://all-about-style.com/sims3.html
Most sites require registration in order to download, but registration is free and so are all of their downloads.
Also on Ciao as thereddragon and on Helium as Esmeralda Draic.
Summary: Add more fun to your Sims 3 game!