Downloading Without Tears

It doesn't take very long after downloading shiny and new add-ons for our game before things start to go horribly wrong. You will find several hints and tips here to help your game get back into shape, all of which I have learned or needed to use in my years of simming.

Many of these I would not know without the kindness and openness of many other simmers, some gone and some still helping simmers along in their day-to-day forumming. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of them for helping me along the way and allowing me to share their findings with you here.


I am in no way implying that these hints, cheats, tips, fixes or links below are the definitive and only ways of helping you download, install and troubleshoot your items with the minimum of problems, only that these are the ways I (or other simmers I know) have found most effective.

Please note that although I am a Mac user, I only have Sims stuff on my PC, and while I know that certain procedures, filenames, etc are very different on a Mac, I cannot give any technical help for Mac Simmers, unfortunately. But if you use Google, I am sure you will find what you need - and probably much better help than I could give anyway.

I am sorry but I cannot give additional help if things go wrong as a consequence of using any of the information here. What I know I freely share, however, in good faith. But do please check out the links where given to compare and contrast methods.

Finally, a dire warning. Some of the hints and tips below involve you altering a downloaded object in some way. Before altering any object, make a copy first. You never know whether it will be available for download again. I cannot urge you enough to do this! Sims 1 sites are disappearing quicker than ice-cubes in a heatwave and not all are file-share friendly. Back up all your downloads regularly, preferably onto a CD or DVD. Protect your investment. You know it makes sense.

I hope you find something of use here for general gameplay, safe downloading, easy installing and good housekeeping.

The Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit includes some of the essential help utilities mentioned on this page. Download this at the Winzip symbol:

Please note that all of these have either been included with previous permissions, are freely shareable or archive files from OldVersion. Where I mention files you need or should have that are not shareable, I provide links to the site where you can obtain them from.

Watch out for Secretary Wuffles! She will tell you if there is anything more to read on a particular subject at my Housekeeping page. Click on her and she will take you there in a new window.

Bunny's Best Links throughout this page list just some of the best places to get help when things go wrong with our game! This is where the Sims Community comes into its own - people having problems, asking questions and sharing what they learned, whether on forums, in chat rooms or on sites of their own.

This game of ours may drive us crazy at times, but, it has also brought many diverse people from across the globe together to share experiences, joys and frustrations, both with our sims lives and our own lives. Best of all, it has helped forge real and lasting relationships with people from all walks of life with whom we were otherwise highly unlikely to ever meet.

Long may it last!

If you just want to generally chat, find the newest downloads, share stories or screenshots, you can do no better than start with the forums listed on my homepage about halfway down.The chances of bumping into me there are fairly good too, but if you do want to talk to me about something specific, like I say on my front page, use a Private Message rather than start any threads in the forums.

Some good places to go for reading and advice about gameplay and game problems are:

  • The Official Site Sims Help Desk So much information here, it just HAS to be the first place to start when troubleshooting. From "How to play The Sims" to "Game Crashes & Lockups" with all stops inbetween, it is likely that you will find what you need here without having to look elsewhere. Also be sure to check out the Tips & Tricks section for ideas on how to improve your Sims experience.

  • EA Help Desk Chock full of helpy goodness, you may find here what you perhaps couldn't find at the Sims Help Desk.
  • The Sims Resource If you can't find the answers at TSR somewhere, then they don't exist. As well as the general help sections on the site, the forums are absolutely chock full of helpful info and people - and there are people in the live chat almost 24/7. The only problem is that of recent months, the once-peerless "search" facility on the forums doesn't work so well anymore - which can pose a real problem if you are looking for one specific bit of information in forums with posts dating from the year 2000. The solution is simple: check here first and if you still can't find your answer, start a new thread in the forum, because many of the regulars have been there for years and probably have the answers bookmarked!

  • The Rooke's Nest The best birdy on the web has lots of nice sim things on his site, and in his Help! section you will find complete tutorials on - "How to Make Your PC Faster", "The Newbies Guide to Downloading", "The Complete Cheats", and the invaluable utility "HD thru MM Door & Window Fixer". Has yet to be bettered; probably never will be.
  • N99 Sims 1 Game Support (all expansions) More help to problems than you could possibly imagine. Start with the sticky threads for organising tips, and so far as technical support is concerned, basically anything Kgalgano says should be writ in stone. If you find something particularly useful, save it to a text file to prevent having to wade through 20 pages of gold dust to find it again - and this will also be a safeguard for you against the valuable information being lost in the EZBoard Page 20 precipice or the coming transfer of all EZBoard forums to Yuku.
  • N99 Stickyland Dealing with both Sims 1 and 2, you will need to scroll to the bottom of the page and go to pages 2 & 3 for Sims 1 help, but ohboy what help there is! Again, if you find it useful, save it. Who knows what might happen inbetween EZBoard's transit to Yuku?
  • Paladin's PlaceJames "Sim Wardrobe" has lots of essential editing utilities, hacked objects, and a wonderful page for WinXP users called Windows XP Game Optimization Tips. His "Sim Categorizer" program is invaluable (not to be confused with Hot Date Object Organiser) and "Sim WallCat" is unbeatable for organising walls & floors and exporting their bitmaps.
  • The Blarney Stone The good Dr Pixel has THE best corrupt skin locator program available in Skin Doctor, along with some Sims 1 & 2 skins. If your skins crash your game and File Cop doesn't tell you why, the Skin Doctor will. An essential utility for anyone who downloads skins.
  • The Sims Programs An archive of the best sims utilities for both Sims1 and Sims2, if the program isn't downloadable here it directs you to the site where you can get it from. Although part of The Sims Resource, downloads in this section are always free and you don't need to be a paying member to access them. Showing a true community spirit from Steve Bonham and his Merry Men (and women), this is an invaluable resource and one I - and many others - couldn't sim for very long without.

For Further Reading

  • The Sims Transmogrifier This is where it all started! Sir Don Hopkins (bit of wishful thinking there from the Bun)* started it all in a serious way when he released this essential bit of kit back in 2000. Go even if it is just to look at the list of anagrams on his "The true story is finally told: Why "Transmogrifier"?" page!
  • The Sims Zone Included here for possibly the only help section I have ever seen for those with Transgaming's The Sims for Linux or the Mandrake Linux 8.0 Game Edition! Otherwise not for the fainthearted (i.e. those who dislike txtspk).
  • Wikipedia Lots to read including some fascinating trivia and a full history of our game. Some inconsistencies, but as this is Wiki, feel free to correct any inadequacies yourself!
  • The Sims Links It isn't pretty, there are no pictures, but boyoboy does this do what it says on the packet. Links, links and links aplenty. Some are gone but I will bet you find things here you didn't know were still around. Or even existed.
  • Green Sims - Sims 1 Tutorials, Tools and FAQs Plenty of sticky threads containing wisdom collected from six years of TSR problem solving without having to wade through six years of forum posts. Also includes technical advice on renaming and rezoning lots, enlarging families and changing music in your game.


* Fortunately for Don, United States citizens can accept a Knighthood if a Sovereign Royal of England wishes to confer one. There is no UK law preventing the granting of Knighthood to a citizen of the United States of America, nor does the Constitution of the United States prevent the Investiture of a man or woman as a Knight (but the Constitution does prevent the United States itself from granting a knightly title).

Unfortunately for Don, Governmental appointments to Knighthood are reserved to the citizens of the UK while Church-affiliated Religious Knighthoods are restricted to a member of that Faith, and those generally are the only appointments that can be petitioned for in any way by commoners. Also, even if one WAS conferred upon him by a royal regnant (or even non-regnant when the time comes), in countries other than Great Britain, Knights of all Orders of Chivalry use the title "Chevalier" (though these days, owning a horse is not obligatory for those to be knighted) so in any case, technically he wouldn't be called "Sir" Don.

His only true hope lies in independent Orders of Chivalry who are not affiliated with a particular Government and not associated with a Church, and operating under their own Charters issued from a "fons honorum". Good luck in finding one.

While my old TSR label "computer wuss" can still at times be applied successfully to me, there are certain problems I have come across which I have solved either by myself (yay! go me!) or (and more likely) with the aid of others. Below is a list of some of those problems with my suggested solutions, links for further reading on that particular issue and even essential files which you should keep in a safe place "just in case". I hope you find these useful for those times you feel like throwing your computer out of the window. Or Windows out of your computer. Scroll down or use the shortcuts below:

All items, including houses are installed from my site by using folders. If you have never needed to use folders before, I have written a guide for absolute beginners. Find this in the Housekeeping section by clicking Secretary Wuffles.

Firstly, you need to download and install the evaluation version of Winzip from During installation select the option to install in Classic Mode. You can also use WinRAR (some sites use .rar files to compress even further), and Windows XP users can unzip .zip files in Windows Explorer. Older versions of Winzip and WinRAR can be found in the Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit. Despite the warnings, there are no time limits on these evaluation versions.

Once you've done this, open the zip files that you've downloaded from here in Winzip or WinRAR & press extract. Select a folder from the explorer menu in Winzip/WinRAR to put your stuff in. It is a good idea to have a folder outside your game to download to, and I use a folder in My Documents which I have called, appropriately, Sims Downloads. This makes it much easier to organise your downloads and - more importantly - find any downloads which you discover may not agree with your game.

Sometimes, I might put two or three types of small item into one zip file to save you having to download lots of stuff separately. All you need to do in this case is open the folder you downloaded to, and move the files to the appropriate folder within C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\. Do not do this while the game is running, otherwise you will encounter problems. Really you will. Trust me on this one.

Make sure that you move any files ending in:

  • .iff to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\UserObjects (UNLESS it is a house file)
  • .wll to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Walls
  • .flr to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Floors
  • .bmp to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Roofs
  • .cmx .cfp .skn and .bmp (when it comes with the skin files) to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Skins

The only exceptions to this rule are with hacked objects I have cloned, such as the C&C Everyone Swims! set which come with a dedicated read-me file included in the zip. It is vitally important that you follow the installation directions within otherwise the object will not work properly and may even crash your game. Objects like this are very clearly marked on the download page.

Although you will find decorative roof items in many of my sets, they do not go in the roof folder. They are decorative items found in buy mode (outdoor, misc or decorative depending on what the item is) and they go in the User Objects folder like normal objects. For those of you who use Sim Categoriser, I would NOT advise you to try to recategorise them for build mode - I have heard of far more people who have had problems since trying that than not.

For Further Reading

If you have never needed to use folders before, you might as well be reading simlish when reading some downloading instructions. I have written a guide for absolute beginners on finding essential folders in Windows Explorer. Find this in the Housekeeping section by clicking Secretary Wuffles.


Using and creating folders becomes an essential skill for the avid downloader. For instance, it is a good idea to organise your objects into separate folders for several reasons:

  • You can find things easier when (not if!) you need to
  • You will optimise game loading time considerably
  • You will increase game stability
  • You can easily organise your neighbourhoods or lots into seasonal or other themes

The good news is that organising your objects, walls and floors within folders will not mess up your game, and I give several ideas on how to do this in the Housekeeping section.

One thing you NEED to know. If you move your objects around a lot (for instance, if you transmogrifiy or play themed lots) you need to ensure that you don't accidentally move or worse, delete files that look like this from your User Objects (or any other) folder. It might only be a little nameless file without even an icon of its own (it may even look like the Windows logo) but by golly it is important. Leave it alone; it and you will be much happier that way.

All items, including houses are installed from my site by using folders. You will need to put them in the exact lot in the neighbourhood you want them in. You will also need to have downloaded, unzipped and installed all the objects first, otherwise you will get the dreaded "missing objects" pop-up and the house will look significantly different from the one you think you downloaded.
  • For the original "The Sims" game they go in: C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\UserData\Houses
  • For a game where you have one or more expansion packs they go in:
    C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\UserDataXX\Houses\HouseZZ
    where XX is the number of the neighbourhood and ZZ is the number of the lot.

For example, if you want a house in Neighbourhood 3 - Lot 3, it goes into:

  • C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\UserData3\Houses\House03.iff

or if you want a house in Neighbourhood 4 - Lot 3, it goes into:

  • C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\UserData4\Houses\House03.iff

It is useful to know which lot is which, so here is a guide to residential lots as default to the game.

You will see that there are some numbers missing; these are lots which feature in the special "away from home areas" of the game such as Downtown (21 - 30), Vacation Island (40 - 48), Studio Town (81 - 89) and Magic Town (93 - 98).

I personally do not play these areas so can give you no technical advice on them. Maybe I will get round to it one day.

I do not recommend over-writing your original houses. Before installing your new house, move your original one out to a safe place. You can safely rename them first (I usually rename to OriginalHouse01.iff) and then if there are any problems with your download, you can put back your original house at any time.
I DO NOT recommend that you put a house intended for one lot into another lot (ie. a lot 2 house on a lot 4 plot) without at least reading technical accounts from people who have done this and succeeded. The main proponents of this method can be found at Green Sims and this link comes with my warning that not all who have tried doing this have had the same success.

For Further Reading


I would assume that all my objects require at least Livin' Large, House Party, Hot Date, Vacation, Unleashed & Superstar to function properly.

From Hot Date onwards, expansion packs have retrofitted some objects from the original game & previous expansions to meet the needs of the new expansion. For instance, the way that dressers behave in the game changed first with Hot Date and then again with subsequent packs.

I do not know of any definitive list of these, but as well as dressers, it certainly includes some counters and chairs. This means that if I have, let's say, Hot Date installed on my computer, and I clone & modify from an object which looks for all intents and Eek!  More bugs!purposes like one from the original game but in fact is one which has been retrofitted, the downloader who does not have Hot Date will find that new object disappears into thin air (taking all the hard earned simoleans with it) when going into Live mode. So, for instance, if I cloned and recoloured the Pinegulcher dresser from the original game now, because I have Hot Date installed, it will not function in a game without Hot Date and will disappear.

This is very annoying as the object looks absolutely fine in the catalogue, and during Buy or Build mode, and it is not until your sim has spent his or her (or Auntie Rosebud's) simoleans on the object and goes into Live mode that you actually find out.

Another issue is that of pets. If you don't have Unleashed, you don't have pets. Which means you don't have the - um - messiness that comes with pets either. I have had reports that one of my lots (don't know which one) contains some doggie-do's which will obviously be a "missing object" for those who don't have Unleashed!

The oh-so-talented object hacker RaevenSong recently gave a further explanation in that there are objects in the game called "tokens" that automatically place themselves on all lots such as gift tokens made for custom displays or example (or those used for other reasons such as adding new social interactions to the game, custom spells or harvested crops). It's possible that sort of thing is causing the message without any furniture itself going missing.

This next issue does not apply to objects from my site, but in your downloading sprees you may also come across other "disappearing objects". Some objects that are meant for the special "away from home" areas have a "self-destruct" code built in. Because of that, they cannot be used on home lots, and will just disappear when you go back to Live mode. Those kind of objects need to be hacked to remove the self-destruct code so they become usable on home lots too. I am not a hacker myself, so unfortunately I have no idea what you need to change in the object code to make that happen, but more and more sites are offering "at home" versions of these objects, which is great for me as my sims never leave home!

Here are my favourite links to help with expansion pack problems.

Some Sim Things There is a way to make some objects expansion-pack free, and Hedda has written an excellent illustrated tutorial on doing just that on her site. One day I will feel confident enough to try using IFF Pencil II and if you don't feel that is something you could do either, for the moment you could perhaps try the following:

  • Sim Categorizer There is a useful "Create Expansion Report" option in Sim Categorizer. It isn't perfect, as James "Sim Wardrobe" Sausville himself has said, but it certainly does help a great deal. This is a versatile program, also enabling you to view your objects easily, change descriptions & prices, and generally categorise your objects how you want.
  • EP Analyser This is a utility to try and weed out objects for packs you don't have. This small program reads an IFF file and finds all scripts used by the object(s) inside. It then tries to find out (by comparing the used subroutines and primitives to an internal table) which expansion packs are needed to use it. Currently it's only got everything set up to Vacation, so it isn't ideal, but it's a start.
  • Troll Sims My long-time friend Troll has compiled a list of what objects need which expansion pack. The lists are not entirely accurate I hear, but for the most part if you don't have an elephantine memory as for which objects were added to our games when, this resource will prove invaluable.
  • EBay Last but by no means least, you can now find expansion packs for sale at EBay for round about the same price as a one month subscription to some paysites! I would seriously consider completing your collection while they are so ridiculously cheap.

  • I would also recommend taking a look around the various forums, and even the Sims 2 forums for deals - I have seen simmers now totally addicted to Sims2 wanting to sell their original game plus expansion packs for next to nothing. I've even come across one or two people actually giving them away!

While it is tempting at first encounter with this to blame the object maker or the house builder, having the "missing objects" thing when downloading houses is actually quite a tricky problem and really nobody's fault. You will notice the "missing objects" box, I am sure, quite frequently when downloading houses with extensive shopping lists, but how on earth could this happen with a house like the ones I offer with very few items from other sites?

The answer is simple, predictable, and infuriating : it's an Object ID problem.

Each object has its own code, its own ID. You might see a chair in your catalogue, but the game sees the ID. If two objects have the same ID, the game gets confused as it tries to load one or both - leading to the "missing objects" message, or even crashing. Yet you are absolutely certain you have the objects for my house and on the shopping list, aren't you?

Let's say I make a house with some Persimmon Grove plants. Now, everyone in the entire sim world has everything from Persimmon Grove, right?

But. In my "let's say" world, I had some object ID conflicts as we all do, and so I used my favourite utility to identify the duplicate IDs. Inamongst all the conflicts, this plant conflicted with, let's say, a cloned decorative Cash Register I made.

I then used my favourite utility to change the duplicate IDs. Because I have had my deco cash register in my game for ages and is used on many lots while the plant is new and I haven't used it yet, I changed the ID of the plant.
I put the plant in my house, offer my house for download and tell everyone quite rightly that the shopping list involves the plant as pictured and you are happily confident that you have it already.

This works in reverse too - if you change an ID of an object and download a house which needs the same object in its original state, you either get "missing objects" or an unwelcome return to your desktop.

Just to make things even MORE interesting, some object makers do not use a Magic Cookie, or some got their cookie from the random generator when it ran out of "legitimate" numbers. This makes the likelihood of object ID conflict happening much greater.

And as if it couldn't get any worse, it does - if you have an object conflict, the likelihood of other simmers having the same conflict is very great, and all will change their ID to different things.So, it is very possible that one object could have many different ID's depending on who's game it is in and what other objects they have downloaded, and the method they used to change the ID.

When some of my houses give the "missing objects" message it is because of a combination of the above plus the following:

  • There are some object ID problems with my own objects even when nobody else's are installed. That is because before I knew more about this subject, I didn't have all my own objects installed when making a new set.
  • It is highly likely that there is a conflict problem with one of my objects and one of the thousands you no doubt have in your stash. I know that there is conflict with some of my objects and other people's work because I find that in my own game and I would be amazed if you hadn't found that too.

I actually don't see any easy way around this as ID conflicts happen between different objects all the time, and keeping a list of objects and their new IDs would be a massive undertaking, besides being far too unwieldy, fiddly and time-consuming. And there is no way on this earth or the next I am going to ask every object maker or downloader to do the same, which is what it would take. But don't despair - ID conflicts may not be avoided but they CAN be fixed, and you can read more about this below.

Ah, we've all been here. Spent ages downloading, unzipping, installing and then when we come to run the game, our brand new objects are a no-show. Can't find them anywhere. Or even worse, we can find them but they vanish when we swap to Live Mode. Here are some possible reasons for this:

1: Object ID Conflict

In short, this is where two objects have the same ID code. To read more about this, see above. The most common occurance of this problem is when you place an object on a lot and it is fine - but the next time after installing new stuff, the object disappears to be replaced with another object. You will see both items in Buy (or Build) mode but the game may crash when you try and buy one of the offending pair. To fix this, see below.

2: Categorising problem #1

This will affect those who do not have all the expansion packs, as the game is unable to load any objects that have been categorised for the special "away from home" areas that you don't have. The SimCategorizer is a free download which will help you recategorise the objects to your needs. Rick Halle's SE Object Manager will also do this, but for some reason it does not pick objects that are priced at $0 so you need to keep a sharp eye open for that. In recategorising, simply select "None" for all the "away from home area" options (Downtown, Vacation Island, Olde Towne etc.) and your objects should then show up in Buy Mode. To know more about categorising and uncategorising, see my Housekeeping page by clicking Secretary Wuffles.

3: Available to buy, disappears before use

If you find that you place an object in Buy or Build Mode but when switching to Live Mode the object disappears, this is most likely due to it being cloned from an object in an expansion pack you don't yet have. To read more about this and how to deal with it, see above. It could also be because a downloaded object cloned from one intended for one of the "away from home" areas has been wrongly categorised without having the special "self-destruct" code hacked out of it.

4: Categorising problem #2

For various reasons, some object makers categorise objects with no category, meaning that you may not even find them in your catalogue. Some object bases are uncategorised in this way, and the person using that base may be unaware of this, or even be unsure how to fix it. To know more about categorising and uncategorising, see my Housekeeping page.

5: The red question mark - AKA the dreaded object limit

It might be the case that you have a great number of objects installed and although you are sure they are categorised correctly and are definitely not from an expansion you don't have, you are still finding your newest downloads aren't showing up in your catalogue. Or you may find that as you scroll through your catalogue, you get a red question mark, followed by increasing amounts of red question marks as you continue scrolling. This could mean that you've reached your game's object limit.

A survey and discussion at N99 some time ago revealed that it was at about 12,000 object downloads that problems started to crop up with regularity, though some simmers were able to have 13,000 downloads before having problems. However, some were of the opinion that it was not so much a total number of .iff files but a Gigabyte total that set the limit, but again the result was inconclusive as some simmers could only have 2.5Gb whereas others could have 3.5 or even 4Gb even though they had similar computer specifications.

Whichever way round it is, the bad news is that there is no way around this yet, and as Maxis do not intend giving us any more fixes, programs or patches for Sims1 anymore, the only thing that can realistically be done is to have a clear out of those items you don't use so much. Maybe this is the time for you to organise your downloads into themed categories, such as Tiki, Mod, Victorian etc? My Housekeeping page goes into this in more detail.

6: Categorising problem #3

You may be wanting a particular object in one of the "away from home" areas but can't find it. More often than not this is yet another categorising problem where the object creator has not thought to make the item appear in those areas. To change this and learn some more about categorising and uncategorising, click on Secretary Wuffles to see my Housekeeping page.

7: The catalogue shows a staircase but the game places a window

This is the dreaded Build Mode Bug. Before Unleashed, the general consensus was that if you had 200+ objects in any one Build Mode category, they would then start to conflict with another Build Mode category. And yes, this included ALL Build Mode categories; I did some experimenting with recategorising things to go into the pool category and sure enough, conflict time reared its ugly head. Build Mode Bugs!Thankfully, the good folks at Maxis listened and understood our problem, and Unleashed allowed us to put 2000 objects into each Build Mode category. I have yet to hear of anyone with Unleashed or a subsequent pack having the Build Mode bug, thankfully. Plenty more about the Build Mode bug and a selection of suggested fixes below.

8: Categorising problem #4

Doubly categorising objects may lead to them becoming a no-show in your game. When you categorise an object, it can only be in one category or the other. For example, if you have a door categorised under Doors in Build Mode, make sure you do not also have a Function Flag and Room Flag set. If you are recategorising an object that was formerly in another mode, be sure to hit the Clear All Flags button before you recategorise it. To know more about categorising, recategorising and uncategorising, see my Housekeeping page.

Some objects have an identity crisis. I know some of mine do! It is certainly a pet peeve of many people that some downloaded objects still proudly bear the Maxis description, or even just a description such as *Sculptures - Vegas 3 despite the object now possibly bearing hardly any resemblance whatsoever to the original.

Is this due to sheer laziness of the object maker, who while happy to spend ages pushing the pixels "just so" and hours slaving over hot A and Z buffers simply cannot be bothered to make up a witty and erudite description to amuse you and your Sims while browsing through the object catalogues? It might be, but on the other hand.....

A savage topiary.




For my part, until fairly recently in my object making "career" (about two years ago), I happily spent ages typing my descriptions into the appropriate box in Transmogrifier, assuming that everyone would see them. Imagine my surprise and bewilderment when I saw someone making a plaintive cry on a forum that the Queen's Beasts in my palm house theme all had the same description - that of the Granite Guard Lion - when in fact I had spent ages describing the heraldic set and function of each one individually.

What I didn't know was that the descriptions in Transmogrifier wouldn't change for all languages automatically, and those playing a non-UK game would just get the Maxis default descriptions on my objects rather than the lengthy dissertation on the provenance of the object I thought they would be getting. I have since found that many object makers didn't know this at first either, and I am still coming across object makers who have no idea this was happening.

The way to easily change descriptions to what the object maker thought they were adding is quite simple using Transmogrifier. I recently went through some of my older downloads where the object maker was obviously playing a US game and only now am finding some hilarious and clever descriptions for the first time in objects some of which are years old.


Using Transmogrifier to change an object's description

Make sure your game is NOT loaded up, nor any other Sim utility program.

It would be much better and quicker if you were able to quarantine the small number of objects you wanted to change into a folder of their own in User Objects, and then move the majority of your objects away to My Documents.

While not essential, this not only has the advantages of making Transmogrifier much faster and less buggy, but also allows you to do other things to your quarantined objects while they are away from the flock.


Load up Transmogrifier. You will see a list of objects on the left hand side, and that they are in alphabetical order of filename.

Scroll through the objects until you find the offending article. For this tutorial I have selected "bunpalmhouseqb1" - the first of my Queen's Beasts.

Hopefully, Transmogrifier will tell you that the selected file is Editable (towards the top of the screen) which will mean the options are clickable. If the file is set to "Read-Only", it will not be Editable and the options will all be greyed out. If this is the case, you should close Transmogrifier and turn the "Read-Only" option off on all objects in your quarantined folder.

Don't know how to do this? Make sure Transmogrifier is closed, then open the appropriate folder on your desktop, right click anywhere inside and select "Properties". The "Read-Only" box will either have a grey or black tick; clicking on it will change the grey tick to black, or the black tick to blank. The box should be blank before quitting the Properties options and restarting Transmogrifier. There is more about setting and unsetting "Read-Only" in my Housekeeping page.


If you want a visual check to ensure that the object you are changing is the one you want, press the "View Object" button on the bottom right of Transmogrifier's front page.

A pop-up will show you a picture of the object, and you can look at this from all four rotations and all three zooms, with or without the grid (check or uncheck the Grid option).

Do NOT be tempted to press the arrows next to the numerical options nor the "Set All" button. These will change your object's Z buffers and I will guarantee you that it will NOT be for the better.

Press OK when you are finished to go back to Transmogrifier's front page.At the bottom centre of Transmogrifier's front page is a button called "Edit Object". Press it....

......and another pop-up will appear, this time looking like the one here on the left.

You will see at the top a pull-down menu headed Language: with (probably) US English highlighted. According to this, my Queen's Beast is a lion, poor thing. Well, he is, but not this particular lion.

If I scroll through the pick list to UKEnglish, a wonderful thing happens.....

The Granite Guard Lion gets magically transformed into The Lion of England, as here is the description you were MEANT to see!

Now, as you are probably not changing this particular object, you may have to scroll through all the language options before you hit upon the one the creator meant you to see.

Once you have found the description, press the "Set All" button on the top right of the Edit Object pop-up box and the next time you look at the object in your game, you will see the new and hopefully more accurate description.

Pressing OK will leave this menu and take you back to the front page of Transmogrifier.

Some creators don't change their descriptions for reasons known only to themselves, and if you have any objects like this, it is in Transmogrifier you can give free rein to your own artistic licence by typing in your own name and description!

While in Transmogrifier though, do NOT be tempted to wander through the "Edit Definition" menu. Things that can be altered there are much better done in other utilities or under tried & tested instruction.

However, you might want to change the price on an object, and this you do by typing the price of your choice into the box marked, um, "Price". You may find that although you put a new price in, when you go to buy the object in your game the new price is nowhere to be seen. This all depends on how the object maker set the price when they made the object, and while a seemingly fixed one can still be changed, it does require a little more knowledge of the files that Transmogrifier splits an object up into for cloning. I go into this in my Tutorials pages.

Finally, while you can change object details in Transmogrifier, to change the name, price or description of walls and floors you need to use either Homecrafter or my personal favourite, Sim WallCat.

Sometimes, objects cloned from expansion packs can crash the games of people who don't have those expansions. However, that is not by far the only reason which causes an object to crash your game. In fact, the most common is an Object ID conflict (yes folks, it's that old chestnut again), followed by an object becoming corrupted. Some game experts believe that the game itself sometimes corrupts objects (more on this below). And you shouldn't discount human error. Yes, believe it or not, even the most knowledgeable object makers can make mistakes, and especially when massively altering or hacking objects. If your game crashes and you suspect it is because of an object, look at any hacked objects you may have installed in your recent downloads first.

Finally, with hacked objects, did you follow the "read-me" instructions carefully before installing? Sometimes, hacked objects need to go into a different place in the game folders in order to work properly, and often even come with items which need to go to separate locations as well.

To find out if you have a bad object, the following routine will help enormously:

  • Firstly, I quarantine my newest downloads in a folder of their own. If the game crashes, I know exactly where my latest downloads are and won't have to scour the entire downloads folder for them. In my "Housekeeping" section you may recall that I said that I have folders called "TodayTrayCloneable" and "TodayTrayNotCloneable" and those are where I put all new objects I haven't tested in the game yet.
  • Secondly, I move the main downloads folders out of User Objects into My Documents, leaving the two Today Tray folders in there all by themselves, and then run Bil Simser's wonderful utility Sim Explorer to check that none of the objects are corrupted. You will find Sim Explorer at TSR or with many thanks to Bil, in the Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit. We'll take a closer look at this utility below.
  • Thirdly, once I have checked the objects for general corruption, I then close Sim Explorer and load up The Sims so I can test the objects in-game. That way, I can see if any disappear because they were cloned with an expansion pack I don't yet have. I can also see what they look like in-game and if I don't think they will go with any of my themes, I can pull them out to archive (I never delete an object these days!).
  • Fourthly, I close the game and check for object ID conflicts. Again, I do this every time I download and unzip a batch of objects prior to installing them in my final game folders. To check for conflicts, I move back all the objects I currently use back from My Documents to my User Objects folder, alongside my Today Tray folders. I then run my favourite utility program to check for any duplicate IDs and change where necessary. There is more information and help on checking ID conflicts below.
  • Fifthly, I then recategorise the new objects if necessary, then sort them into folders according to my preference (I give details of this in the Housekeeping section)

Checking objects in these ways after every downloading session is a very good habit to get into and it gets quicker each time. It's De Bugs!However, if all else fails and you still believe you have issues with a bad object, a good way to find problems in objects is to run the game in debug mode.

It is fairly well documented around the community that over time, our precious stash of objects may develop one or two corruptions. The reason is not yet fully known, but according to the sim programmer James "SimWardrobe" Sausville, the game writes "garbage" lines to object files on saving and exiting, and more often on items since Hot Date. Most of the time there is no harm done, but occasionally, an object will be rendered useless and, worse, turned into a game-crasher. Unfortunately, these are not always detected by the otherwise splendid third-party sim utilities I recommend.

To help stop this from happening, there are two things you can do, and I go into this further over in the Housekeeping section.


Sim Explorer

Using SimExplorer is so easy! However, like all sim utilities it is resource hungry, and will sometimes crash for lack of memory. You may find you need to move some of your folders to My Documents if you are using it to view all of your objects. You cannot run this at the same time as the game is running, or indeed any other sim utility like Transmogrifier, for instance.

My screenshot below is from the first version as I never bothered to upgrade, but yours should look almost the same apart from the name. You will see that the screen is divided into three windows - on the left is a list of all the folders within The Sims main folder, and on the right are two windows which should be blank when you first open it. You can resize all three windows if the filenames are squished up.

Double-click GameData, then scroll down to UserObjects, and after a double-click you will find all your subfolders (or not as the case may be) of objects currently in your game. In the bottom window you should now have a list of objects within whichever folder you currently have selected (mine below is "bun deco"), and when you scroll down them a picture and description will appear in the top window.

The above object, my recoloured version of the C&C Pet Pool Ladder, seems to be fine. I can be fairly sure that this is not the object which is corrupted and is crashing my game.

However, when scrolling through your objects, you may possibly come across one which doesn't show a picture of the item, nor a description, price or name, but instead a list of numbers headed "Sprite List" like the one here on the left.

An object which does this is generally the corrupt culprit and should be removed from your folder.

But there are one or two notable exceptions! Some hacked objects come with invisible controller objects and those may well give results like this in SimExplorer. This is normal and nothing to worry about. You can generally tell by the filename if it is supposed to be an invisible NPC controller or a "normal" object.

SimExplorer does not load all the objects up in the same way that Transmogrifier does, so you can move or copy objects from the folder you are currently exploring without quitting the program. Having said that, it is IMPORTANT to note that you cannot move or copy the object that you are currently viewing / is highlighted in SimExplorer.

So if I want to move or copy bundecoccpetpoolladder.iff I would need to scroll down to at least the object above or below BEFORE attempting to move or copy it.

Incidentally, I never delete any corrupt objects because they can often be fixed in Transmogrifier; instead I have a folder in My Documents called "simstuff to fix" and it goes in there for later attention.

It really is a good idea to regularly check new downloads in this way, because corruption can sometimes occur during the downloading process, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to remember the site you got the object from to redownload it. While you are checking your objects, as well as the User Objects folder, don't forget to check the ones which may have found their merry way into the Objects folder, the Downloads folder and any subfolders within such as "Transmogrified".

You can also use EliSims to check for bad objects - they will show up as a red X, but the pictures are so small and sometimes it doesn't pick up on corruptions as well as SimExplorer.

For Further Reading

Firstly, I must say that running the game in a Debug mode doesn't find all types of object errors. I have seen reports that objects which need a global resource you don't have for some reason can be an object error which Debug mode doesn't pick up. And if it's a skin or a bad lot you get no help from Debug Objects mode. But for most bad objects it does work, and it does your game no harm to run it this way every time you play.

There is a wonderful illustrated tutorial at Sims Attic which shows you how to run your game in Debug Objects mode. This has greatly helped me, and I hope you find it as useful as I did.

There is also a Debug mode for lots. To run this mode, you should follow the Sims Attic Debug Mode instructions - only this time, in the target line you should type:

  • "C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\Sims.exe" -r1024x768 -debug_houses"
  • or "C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\Sims.exe" -debug_houses" (for 800x600)

Basically, running the game in a Debug mode means that during game play, if the game finds a problem with an object it will give you a message saying what object the error message is for, and possibly why. It will give you three options, and if you press bugs bugs bugs"reset" most of the time the game will continue to play. If you had to press "delete" to get the game continue playing, this is likely to be the object that is making your game crash.

You should remove the object by closing the game and moving the downloaded file from your sims folder into one outside the game, and see if the game functions better. If an error is found, a text file of an error report can be found in your C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims folder.

Are you still of the opinion that your game is crashing because of an object?

Have you ensured that in your general organising you haven't moved or deleted this little file from your User Objects folder? It might only be a little nameless file without even an icon of its own (it may even look like the Windows logo) but by golly it is important.

For Further Reading

Object ID problems have been with us since the very beginning. Some of the first reports of ID problems appeared at TSR in July 2000 - not too long after the first Beta release of Transmogrifier and the first downloadable items from the pioneer object creators started to appear. Not long after, the first fix also appeared which is still valid today: just reclone the object in Transmogrifier. More on this below, along with other suggested fixes.

The bad news is there is absolutely no way on this earth to ever avoid object ID conflicts if you intend using downloaded objects in your game. Why is this?

Let's meet the MCTs; a couple of sims who you may know from my tutorials 9, 10 & 11 - Mr Chair Tester and his dear lady wife Mrs Chair Tester (hitherto known as Mr CT and Mrs CT).

They hold a very important - but very easy - job in the Wuffles neighbourhood: they sit down and test my objects for me.

Today they are going to show us a little more than we learned above about what an object conflict is, how it happens, what it does, and hopefully how to avoid and/or fix them.

Basically, every object maker makes their objects in Transmogrifier, some with a special code (magic cookie) and some without. The first version of Transmogrifier even caused duplicate IDs despite the creators having their own unique magic cookies, but later versions fixed this glitch. Now, you are less likely to have problems when a creator uses a valid magic cookie than not.

Regardless of this for the moment, the more objects a maker has in their downloading folders while they are using Transmogrifier to clone (make) an object, the less chance there is of duplicating an ID number.

So here, Mr CT has the advantage over Mrs CT, as her objects are more likely to cause conflict than his.

HOWEVER. The more objects a maker has in their downloading folders, the buggier Transmogrifier gets.

So here, Mr CT has the disadvantage of the greater likelihood of Transmogrifier freezing or crashing than Mrs CT.

To get round this latter problem, most object makers move their downloaded objects out of their downloading folders while they are creating. Before I realised this, I went through a stage of taking my own objects out while creating and lo & behold, I now have a bunch of object ID conflicts in my own objects. Sigh.

So while this solves issues with Transmogrifier, it creates issues with Object ID codes.

Also, while many object makers are avid downloaders too, there is no way that every object maker will have kept in their downloading folders every object they ever downloaded.

No doubt some, like Mr & Mrs CT here will have downloaded objects that others haven't.

And all object makers obviously use their own computers with their own copies of those objects which they might have changed because of ID conflicts they themselves were having.

See where I'm going with this? It doesn't take much randomising before we start to bring chaos into effect.

And if that isn't enough, another cause of Object ID problems is the large number of object makers who don't have a valid Magic Cookie (they ran out a while back) and therefore use an invalid cookie that doesn't work properly (ones higher than 65535 may create a duplicate ID), a random set of numbers or even just plain ol' 0. This increases the chances of object ID conflict massively. The Magic Cookie group is a useful database to know about - this keeps track of cookies currently in use, but can't really do much about this problem other than try to monitor it.

Last, but by no means least, an ID number is also square-specific, meaning that the game "thinks" that one square = one object. So if an object spans four squares, it has four ID numbers, and it is inevitable that sooner or later you will come across duplicate ID conflict problems with that and another object - or even just part of an object.

The chances of conflict between, say, half a sofa and part of a bed are just as great as any other, and it is those which usually crash the game. Occasionally this makes for some interesting screenshots! Many is the time I have seen someone asking for help and enclosing a picture of a peculiar hybrid object where the game has obviously tried its best to manage the conflict and came up with a mangled sofa/statue combination, for instance. (This is not to be confused with the fireplace/plant problem you may have or have heard about; this is something I will address later on).

Not only this, but with certain objects, having a duplicate ID is deliberate, and is needed for the object to work as intended.

For instance, in the case of Sir Laphelot's plant upgrades from Simslice, they are meant to replace the default ones so actually need to have the same ID. Objects of this type are generally hacks that you are instructed to put directly into the "ExpansionPack" folders, as opposed to the usual "Downloads" or "User Objects" folders.

With many other hacked objects such as those from Parsimonious, there are also various controller files as well as NPCs that are specifically "told" by the creator to reference the ID of an object. If the ID of the object is changed then the whole thing will cease to work, and even worse, the possibility of crash time will be with us once again.

So obviously you will not want to change any IDs on objects such as those, otherwise they won't work.

The golden rules used by those of us who need to change a lot of IDs (i.e. those of us who download everything they can get their sticky paws on) are as follows:

  • If the conflict is between a newly downloaded object and one you have had for ages, change the newly downloaded one.
  • If the conflict is between a Maxis object and a hacked object meant to replace it, leave it alone.
  • If the conflict is between a hacked object and a non-hacked object, change the non-hacked one.
  • If the conflict is between a hacked object with dependent files (e.g. a NPC) and a hacked object without (e.g. a chair hacked for comfort) change the hacked object without any dependent files.

The good news is that now you understand a little more about the problem, there is some excellent help out there for you, including some very useful utilities. Now, before I send you to them, they may require you to have a Magic Cookie yourself. If you haven't got one, don't despair. Use mine! Honestly, use mine. It is an early one so shouldn't give you any problems. Just type 26369 into any box that asks for a Magic Cookie and away you go. You can use anyone's Magic Cookie in this way if you are only altering object IDs for your own game - though beware if you are offering houses with furnishings installed, as your shopping list will have the problems listed above.

Here are my favourite links on solving the Object ID problem:

Rick Halle's SE Object Manager Here I am counselling you to spend some of your hard earned cash again (though there is a 48 hour non-repeatable free trial). But honestly, SEObject Manager is so quick, easy and automatic it feels too easy! A full illustrated guide to using this excellent utility can be found here.

The program does many other things as well as sorting Object ID problems, but for me, the $13.95 (US) I spent was well worth it just to avoid the hassle involved with the other methods of finding and changing faulty IDs. The first time I ran it to check for ID problems, it checked over 47,000 object id numbers in half an hour - I would be weeks doing that manually. On my new PC it is even faster than that. Honestly, I can give you all my assurance that it was the best money I have spent on my sims games (apart from the game and expansions themselves, LOL).

  • Antoine Potten's Sims Object ID This, I believe, was the first program to run through your files to check ID codes. A free download, he gives full illustrated instructions here. Clever bunny that he is, he also gives a tutorial on how to check and change ID conflicts using a hexadecimal editor and you will find this here along with a link to download one. Be warned though - this method might be free but it will involve hours of poring over figures and feels more like office work than game troubleshooting. Having said that, there are people at N99 and at TSR who have used this method successfully for years and a quick search through the help forums there will find you hints and tips. For me, I ended up changing ID codes on skins, go figure.
  • The Sims Transmogrifier This has got to be the simplest way of changing an object's ID to be compatible with all your other objects. The drawbacks are that you have to know which object is causing the problem in the first place, know its filename (this becomes so much easier if you have a system of organising and testing your new downloads) and you need lots of free memory space on your computer. Here's how to use it to fix your problem!


Using the Sims Transmogrifier to change an object's ID

Load up the Transmogrifier. It will read all of the Maxis default objects including those downloaded from the official site, all objects within the Expansion Pack folders, and all your downloaded objects whether .iff or .far files that live in your Downloads and GameData folders & subfolders. Transmogrifier could take a long time to load up if you have all your objects installed - and be warned, it becomes unstable and crashes if your free memory is not enough for it. If this is the case, close Transmogrifier and move some objects out of your Maxis/TheSims folder altogether. I move mine to My Documents. Obviously you need to keep your problem object in whichever download folder you put it in!

A very large word of warning - you CANNOT do this while your game is running, or while you are running ANY other sims utility program. Neither should you attempt to move any objects in or out of your folders while Transmogrifier is running. You run a very real risk of corrupting many - if not all - your objects if you attempt to do so. In any event, it is always worthwhile to back up all your objects from time to time on a CD or DVD. You never know when things might go horribly wrong - and then it's too late.

Once Transmogrifier has loaded up successfully, it should look something like this.

If you scroll through the object list on the left hand side, you will see that the objects are listed in alphabetical order of their filename. Find the problem object. To show you what to do, I am going to use my Deco chair.

Highlight that object, and to make sure it is the one you want to alter, you can press the "View Object" button on the bottom right of Transmogrifier. This will bring up a pop-up with a picture of your object. Close this pop-up and now press the "Clone Object File" button in the top centre of Transmogrifier.

This will bring up a pop-up window called "Clone Object File".

You can see that it is prompting me to give the chair a new name. I usually try to keep track of objects I have altered in this way, so I would call it something like "bundecochaircloned" or "bundecochairnewid".

This is obviously up to your preference, but note that you cannot give it the same name as another object - even the one you are altering.

Once you have typed in your new name, press "OK" to clone the problem object.

Transmogrifier will then do its work, and give you a long scrolling list of gobbledegook, which should end up looking something like this.

Press OK....

....and you will be taken back to the opening screen where, lo and behold, there stands your shiny new chair with its new ID.

You can now close Transmogrifier, and once it has unloaded, you can take the original problem object out of your download folder.

I do NOT recommend that you delete the problem object within Transmogrifier because it really does delete it - you will not find it in your recycle bin if you change your mind or even worse, accidentally delete the wrong one.

I simply could not believe it when I first read that one could have more than one neighbourhood in one game. I must admit, our original game at home was really quite interesting because before we discovered the joys of multiple neighbourhoods, the three simmers in our household (me and two out of three step-daughters) divided lots 1-10 up between us, which meant that when neighbours called, you really didn't have a clue what they were going to be like.

I nearly fell off my chair when one sim called on the family I was playing, dressed in a scary skin one of them had downloaded from Dr Frankensims' (sadly long gone) site. His name was Mad Brad Moose and despite his daunting appearance, Mad Brad charmed my very ordinary suburban family in a way that the real Mad Brad Moose would have frightened them into calling the police the moment he stepped onto their driveway. When I first read on TSR that someone called Dave Sanborn had developed a utility called Neighbourhood Watch for creating and managing multiple neighbourhoods, I was in heaven and so were my stepdaughters. But I never met Mad Brad Moose again.

There are utilities for managing your neighbourhoods, but of course before those existed (and since) it was done manually by copying the "UserData" folder and renaming it to, for example, "UserData3". It is possible to do this up to "UserData99".

This flexibility allows us to easily organise neighbourhoods or lots into seasonal or other themes, and those of us who are really organised can even organise our objects into separate folders for the sole use of those neighbourhoods.

For instance, my Neighbourhood 10 is my "tiki" neighbourhood which I have all the exotic island type houses I downloaded or made for myself. While I love the multitude of Tiki objects out there, I don't want to have to wade through them when I am playing a Victorian house, or Space-Age lot. So I moved all my Tiki objects into a separate folder, and when I am in a bamboo mood, I simply move all my object folders out of my User Objects main folder, and move my Tiki10 folder from My Documents into User Objects, and away I go.

I go into far more detail in my Housekeeping page on organising objects in this way.

Here are my favourite links for utilities to help in organising neighbourhoods:

EliSims Not the first, not the last, but certainly the best! Create, backup or remove multiple neighbourhoods or run The Sims inside a window with this extremely useful tool. Give your neighbourhoods custom names to go with seasonal or other themes you may have. You can use it to preview or import families, modify character ratings, change jobs and preview walls, floors, skins and objects as well. Although many versions of the program are available for download, choose the latest one (v2.13 at time of writing) and while the site says the program is untested on Unleashed upwards, I have yet to hear of a problem with using it with that or subsequent exp. packs. I have Superstar installed and use EliSims every time I load up my game and have never had a problem.


  • NeighborhoodStart Easy and simple, does what it says on the packet. It allows you to select the neighbourhood you want to play, add a custom description for each neighbourhood, ie. Egyptian, Victorian, Space Age, Medieval, Halloween, Winter, Christmas or even more detail, such as occupant information.
  • Lot Manager From the reliable stable of Sim Wardrobe, Lot Manager allows you to copy lots to new neighbourhoods, see what the lots look like before you copy them & save the lots in a storage directory with descriptive file names.
  • Neighbourhood Watch Dave Sanborn's utility for managing neighbourhoods may even have been the first. However, this may well not be compatible with later expansion packs as it seems the site hasn't been updated in a long while. But I include this link out of nostalgia!

Once upon a time, a novice downloader who's name shall go unmentioned (all right, it was me) spammed this plaintive plea around every forum she could find. Well, not every forum because out there in interwebland are far more forums than sims ones, but you know what I mean.

"All of a sudden all of my Sims are black when in zoom in. I don't know if it is something I downloaded to cause this, but it happens every time and I don't know what to do!"

The good folks at TSR saved the day, and saved my sims as well. This made me feel much better in two ways - I had a solution, AND it was obvious I was not the first person to panic at this strange occurance. And as I have seen since, not the last either. Should this ever happen to you, save your panic for a much more appropriate time because here is the solution I was given.Big Bugs!

"There is a file missing in the "Lights" folder which itself is inside the GameData folder. It gets corrupted or even disappears sometimes, causing the nearest zoomed sims to turn all black."

And now, here is my rant. This is the most misnamed folder in existence. Many people (myself included) at the beginnings of their downloading career are anxious to put the downloads in the correct place (quite right too), and with this folder being in GameData AND called Lights, guess what I put in there. However, this folder has nothing to do with table lights, wall lamps, floor lamps, candles or any other object that lights up - rather it is a folder which shouldn't be touched at all because it contains essential items for your game to run smoothly - such as your sims not turning black on the nearest zoom.

Even worse, for some inexplicable reason, it gets corrupted or even disappears altogether, even if you have NEVER TOUCHED IT. Ah, the wonders of our game, eh?

You will find the Lights folder including the two necessary files in the Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit. Install in C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\ before loading up your game next.

For Further Reading


Can't use the phone? Car pool doesn't turn up? While I and many others would have given up on the game a long time ago without the map_edit cheat to resize a lot, and move_objects cheat to, well, move objects, these cheats are also fraught with invisible dangers easily triggered - the most drastic being that the next time you play, you find that sims cannot move away from the lot nor other sims join them.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Portals, my friends. Portals are the invisible commands which basically act as entrances and exits to a sim Lot, and generally sit at the ends of the pavements and roads where visitors & cars come and go. And they are so unbelievably easy to delete or corrupt! A common occurance is moving the trash can and the mailbox too far from their proper locations or onto the editable lot and then bulldozing the house - which removes them very effectively.

Sometimes, you may find you have downloaded a house with a missing portal. Or sometimes, when building a house using one or both of these cheats, it is so easy to pick up, delete or even sometimes just place something on top of a portal which has then become corrupted / deleted all without your realising. Or even WITH your realising if you thought it was a neat idea to delete the mailbox or trash can. While in theory it sounds great not to have bills again, losing a portal will cause you major game problems, such as not being able to receive visitors or call the fire brigade (or even for a pizza).

In fact, The Rooke in his peerless list of cheat codes at The Rooke's Nest counsels us "NOT to make editable the following squares: Mailbox, Trashcan, or the invisible portals at the ends of the sidewalk or the squares on either side of the the ends of the sidewalks. Even if you do not move anything or change anything on those squares: guests may not be to visit or leave, the mailgirl and gardener may not show up, and walk by neighbors may get stuck at the end of the sidewalk and die."

Well, as you are reading this, I would guess it's too late for that advice. But never fear. Help is at hand, or even at paw. Here is how to hopefully fix your problem.

  • In-Game - can only be run from the lot to be prepared

Bring up the cheat window by pressing and holding the Ctrl key, Shift key and the letter C (from now on referred to as Ctrl-Shift-C). In the grey window, type in: prepare_lot and press Enter.

This prepares and resets your lot, telling you if the pedestrian or car portals are missing. In some cases this can even restore the portals - but not always. It would appear that this was changed (like many of the very old cheats) between certain expansion packs. However, it still resets the clock (sometimes) to midnight, resets all object states to their defaults (beds are made, dishes Little Bugs.are clean, meals uneaten, etc.), and brings all the Sims home from school or work without losing a day's work - but they do lose the day's pay in return for all those shiny green bars. Once you know which portals are missing, you can then use the Bunker Sims PedPortal fixer to correct the problem.

This cheat can also be used to fix the "Mystery Frozen Lot" problem where nothing has been changed or added to a lot but it hangs up the game and your PC all of a sudden. To prepare a frozen lot, from the neighborhood screen type Ctrl-Shift-C to bring up the cheat code and type in: house #;prepare_lot Where # is the frozen lot number. Press Enter and all should be well.

  • The BunkerSims PedPortal Fixer - unzip and install in C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\UserObjects before running game

Included in The Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit with many abject and grateful thanks to Shogal, this ugly little table solves so many problems you can surely forgive its appearance. We'll take a closer look at how to use it below.

Two more utilities you might like to try are the:

  • Downtown Phone Replacer For Hot Date: Did you accidentally delete your downtown phone? Sims can’t get home without it! This nifty little application designed by SimsPlus! will replace the phone in your downtown lots. Simply enter build mode and add them back into the lot and save.
  • Trash Can & Mailbox Replacer: Did you accidentally delete your mailbox or trash can? This will detect if they are missing and create a new one for you! All you have to do is enter the lot, use the move_objects on cheat in buy mode, and put them where they belong. Designed by SimsPlus!

These are also both included in the Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit with many thanks to SimsPlus for being file-share friendly and letting us distribute their objects while they are offline. But get online back soon guys!

You may also want to try running your game in debug mode.


The Bunker Sims PedPortal Fixer

Run your game and go to the lot in question, type Ctrl-Shift-C to bring up the cheat box and type in prepare_lot and press Enter. This will tell you which portal (or portals) are missing.

Now, go to Buy Mode and in the Miscellaneous / All section you will find....


....this very attractive green table on sale for the bargain price of 10 simoleans.

Place the table on the lot somewhere, and go to Live mode.



Direct your sim to the table and you will be faced with four options:

  • Ped Portal
  • Car Portal
  • Phoneline
  • Others

Let's have a look at them each in turn.

Ped Portal

Selecting "Ped Portal" will bring up the menu on the left.

Selecting "Show all portals" will bring up a pop-up (shown below left) to confirm.

Though while it assures you they are chairs, they look suspiciously like tables. But who cares so long as we have some!

Of course, you are using this fixer because you may not have some, so to replace a portal, choose "Add new Ped Portal" from the menu...

...and another brown table will appear next to your green one, along with the pop-up shown right confirming it.

But don't worry, you won't have to play your game with ugly tables in random places. They can and should be hidden during normal gameplay, and to do this you select "Hide all portals", and a pop-up will assure you that they are now hidden but not deleted.

If you click on one of the brown portals, a pop-up will give you the option to leave the world in two different ways. Would you opt to leave the world because your house is not good enough? When Auntie Rosebud is there with just a few little clicks of the keys?


Car Portal

Selecting "Car Portal" will bring up the menu on the left.

Selecting "Show all portals" will bring up a pop-up (shown below left) to confirm.

Again, you will have random furniture appear, and this time it IS a table in which case I don't need to add a new one. Obviously if you need to add one you would know by now and that is what you would choose on the menu.

Once again, choose "Hide all portals" to make the table invisible.


The chair will disappear, but you will be left with a pop-up reassuring you that it is gone, but not forgotten. I mean hidden, but not deleted. Oops.


Selecting "Phoneline" will bring up the menu on the left.

As you have no doubt come to expect, random furniture will appear, this time looking something like this.

Again, if you don't have one, you need to add one, and if you do have one, select "Hide all phonelines" and a pop-up will assure us they are hidden but still there.



Selecting "Others" will bring up the menu on the left.




Selecting "Add new trashcan" will cause a trashcan to appear next to your green table with the pop-up on the right announcing its entrance.

So what do you do with your new portals once you have generated them?

  • You need to Ctrl-Shift-C to bring up the cheat box and then type move_objects on to be able to move the portals.
  • Your new Pedestrian Portal should be placed at the end of the pavement/s.
  • Your new Car Portal should be placed in the centre of the road, near the mailbox. It has to face a certain way to work, so you need to check this at the next time your car should arrive & leave. If there is a problem, buy the green table once again, instruct it to show the car portal, pick up the car portal and rotate it to another direction. Hide it, go back to Live mode and wait for the car once again. Do this for as many times as you need - it will never be more than three times if you only rotate it one notch each time!
  • Your new Trashcan can be placed anywhere you want. Bear in mind you may need to replace it again if you place it on an editable square where you can accidentally delete it or bulldoze it along with the lot.
  • Your new Mailbox can be placed anywhere you want so long as you bear in mind the instructions for the trashcan.
  • Your new Phone Line should be placed at the edge of the lot.

Once you have placed all your replacement portals and you are satisfied, instruct the neon green table to hide all portals, then you can sell it until you need it again. Press Ctrl-Shift-C to bring up the cheat box and then type move_objects off to avoid any accidental deletions.

  • The BunkerSims PedPortal Fixer Bless Shogal for his generosity in allowing his items to be shared on a Yahoo! group - do check it out for other interesting items.
  • Some Sim Things Hedda has some wonderful hacks, including replacement portals for the special "away from home" lots. They can be used to view and replace portals on all lots in the game, and needs Hot Date or higher to work.


Big Build BugsWelcome, my friends, to the wonderful world of the Build Mode Bug, first spotted in late 2000 and not truly splattered until 2002 with the advent of Unleashed. The Build Mode bug happens when you have more than 200 items in your Build Mode, and the item you place when you select something else is the one you have "too many" of. So, if your fireplaces are turning into plants, you simply have too many plants in Build Mode. Obviously you can delete some plants if you really want to, but you don't have to.

Shortly after Livin' Large appeared and more object makers had more bases to play with, sometime in late 2000 those of us who were merrily downloading every recoloured object in sight soon encountered their stairs turning into windows. We plaintively posted about this at TSR, and Barb (Tobykat from N99) was the first (so far as I recall anyway) to realise, after many experiments in her own game, that this was because we had downloaded too many windows. This seems obvious now in hindsight, but believe me, at the time it was believed to be all kinds of things. We had been more or less told by Maxis that we could have unlimited objects in our game so object limits were the last thing to suspect.

As more expansion packs appeared and easier versions of Transmogrifier appeared, so did more object makers, and subsequently more and more people fell victim to this bug. More Big Build BugsMore research was done and the general conclusion became that if you had 200+ objects in any one Build Mode category, they would then start to conflict with another Build Mode category. Some unlucky victims reported problems with only 100+ objects; that may or may not have been a memory problem. Thankfully, the clever bunnies at Maxis listened to us, and finally, the release of Unleashed allowed us to put 2000 objects into each Build Mode category before problems would arise. Having said that, I have yet to hear of anyone with Unleashed or subsequent pack having the Build Mode bug, thankfully.

Little Build Bugs.Walls and floors are a different matter altogether; with the original game we could only have 90 walls and 63 custom floors, but with Livin 'Large this was raised to 65,000 of each. Incidentally, the rotations of the floors changed early on too - anyone remember the very first "area rugs" which were just floors placed like murals without each piece having to be tileable with itself like now? Ah, happy memories! But at least Rosebud is easier to type than Klapaucius.

I love this game and its creators for listening to us players and helping us mod our games!

Image copyright Maxis/EA GamesSo, you have the Build Mode Bug.

The simplest solution would be to buy Unleashed or a subsequent expansion pack.

I know keep going on about this, but honestly, never has there been a better time to buy Sims1 expansions, as many Sims2 players look to raise a few $ from their old game on EBay.

As well as fixing the Build Mode bug, the advantages of getting Unleashed are:

  • You get an all new expanded neighbourhood along with new community lots featuring lush parks, a café, cool shops and a farmer's market for your Sims to explore.
  • You get pets! Visit a pet store and bring home a variety of creatures and accoutrements; not just cats & dogs either!
  • New NPCs include a Pet Trainer if you don't want your Sims to spend time teaching their pets "where to go". Sims can also enter their cats & dogs in the local Pet show.
  • You get five new career tracks with 50 new jobs .Animal Care, Culinary, Circus, Fashion, or Education.
  • Home workers or keen gardeners can now grow a variety of vegetables in their own garden plots using seeds purchased at the local garden store.
  • New objects for pets and people plus an all-new decorator set with a New Orleans French Quarter theme. New objects also means less chance of getting the "Disappearing Objects" expansion pack issue.

The next solution is a little more involved. You may have noticed that sometimes, you download a door, window or plant and it appears in your Buy Mode catalogue. This means that you won't get the Build Mode Bug from that particular object, and it is a simple matter now to recategorise plants and some other Build Mode items to go into Buy Mode.

Along with that advantage though, as you might expect there are also disadvantages to doing this....

  • You cannot recategorise all build mode objects in this way. Some have reported that columns don't always support the surrounding tiles any more when changed, and I have seen reports of staircases having problems too. Plants are safe, as are windows, doors and fireplaces.
  • If you sell your house, the items you have put in buy mode will disappear along with all the furniture. This is not a problem for me as I tend to bulldoze rather than resell houses, but this could well be an annoyance if you want to sell your house.
  • When selling the house I believe that the money (minus the set depreciation value) for buy mode plants would be added to your sims' total assets unlike with build mode plants.
  • If you sell your house with Buy Mode windows & doors installed, they will disappear along with all the furniture. When your sim buys lil' tiny bugsiesthe house, you will get a black line where the door or window should be, and you will have to delete and rebuild the wall segment.
  • An unexpected bonus of recategorising your plants into Buy Mode is that you are now able to sell your plants back for hard cash - unlike build mode plants. But don't forget, if you sell your house, the plants will disappear along with all the furniture.
  • It can be a bit of a pain installing multiple items from Buy Mode but don't forget, it's easier if you press the SHIFT key when selecting & placing an item.
  • You will find you can't delete the window / door by using the usual method. However, if you select the plain wall option in build mode and WITHOUT PRESSING CONTROL just run the wall past the window / door as if you were building a NEW wall along the exact path of the existing wall. As if by magic the window / door will disappear, you will get your money back, and you will not even have to rewallpaper your wall either.
  • Once you get Unleashed, you must recategorise these objects back to Build Mode; some reports say that they don't work properly any more in Buy Mode.

So, if you don't intend getting Unleashed, Superstar or Makin' Magic, you can recategorise objects using your favourite utility; whether it be Sim Categoriser, SE Object Manager, HD Object Organiser (from the official site and in the Bunny Wuffles Troubleshooting Kit) or The Sims Transmogrifier. Here is how to do it in Transmogrifier, as taught to me by P8ntmstrG & TSE3_BLÀde (bless you my dears) all those long years ago.

If you are using Transmogrifier, you don't need a magic cookie unless you intend making your own items.

  • Open up Transmogrifier.
  • Click on the item you want to change from the list of objects on the left hand side.
  • Click on Edit and then Edit Definition.
  • Go to Function Flags and click on "General."
  • Go to Room Flags and click on "Miscellaneous."
  • These are the only two things you change to put the item in Buy Mode; you don't need to change the Build Mode type.

To know more about categorising and uncategorising, see my Housekeeping page.

For Further Reading

  • Recategorising using Transmogrifier This was my first ever tutorial! Hosted by Troll at TrollSims, this was a larger version of the hints & tips given to me at TSR as transcribed above!