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I have a new website!

Date Posted: 18th Aug 2008 at 9:00 PM

I've got all of my creative projects under one roof now. My new site is hosted by 110mb, and according to the Terms of Use, I'm not supposed to use it for file archiving. That's fine; I'll just keep using my 4shared account for downloads and ImageShack for pictures. I do wonder, however, why they offer 5gb of space if they don't want me to use it for much more than text.

The biggest advantage to the new site is that it's ad-free. I always feel bad about sending anyone to my old AngelFire site because it's pop-up hell for anyone who doesn't have a decent blocker. I still need to copy over my old MilkShape tutorial, but everything else is available at the new site now.

I have a few Sims 2 files at the new site that aren't available anywhere else -- mostly because they wouldn't meet MTS2 standards. If you want my bland-faced models, check it out. I'm not going to move any of my MTS2 files there, so things here won't change.

I'm glad all the html coding is finished. I finally got it looking the way I want!
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Taking a Morrowind break, BRB

Date Posted: 7th Jan 2008 at 8:35 PM

If you look at my upload history, you can see that it's been a few months since I made anything for the Sims 2. As I get more expansions, I've found less and less of a need for custom content, but it's also due to a continuously waning interest in the game. Now I'm going to take a break from Sims communities for a while, because I've rediscovered Morrowind (and its expansions), and it has become my obsession again.

The modding community for Morrowind has put out a lot of great stuff since I left the game, even though you'd think everyone would have moved on to Oblivion. The Better Bodies project reached its final release, there's a Better Clothes beta to go with it (which I had to tweak to prevent clipping issues with the Khajiit ladies, but oh well), and I found a retexture pack that makes almost everything in the game brighter and more richly colorful (and it was easy to edit out the few things I didn't want changed). There is a great Better Bodies mod for Beast races, which I had to tweak to add the female Khajiit files from an older, similar mod that sadly is less compatible with the Better Clothes. I'm playing the game on my secondary computer, which isn't powerful enough for Seasons or Bon Voyage, but Morrowind looks GORGEOUS on it. And that's just The Pretty -- beyond graphic improvements, I found a leveling fix that changes the leveling system that drove me crazy in the original game. I started a new character (I had to, as it's been long enough that none of my computers had the game installed anymore), and I started playing a few days after Christmas. I'm coming up for air now only to mention that I'll be gone for a little longer while I enjoy my new-and-improved game. (I'm not even using the Morrowind Graphics Extender , which is supposed to be incredible, because it requires runtime files that I don't want to install on that computer.)

However, I've finally learned not to say that I'm tired of making Sims content and have "quit forever" -- every time I say that, I release a new Sims thing within a few weeks. And there's a good chance I'll be nosing around when the Free Time expansion comes out... to see what all the fun gossip is about, if nothing else. But in the meantime, I'm going to be bouncing around Vvardenfell, fighting monsters and collecting magic weapons.

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Some people still play The Sims 1 :)

Date Posted: 11th Sep 2007 at 12:36 AM

One of my two Sims 1 websites was deleted recently. I only found out about it because someone who was looking for my furry-sim files contacted me and asked about it -- I wasn't given any notification. It was an archive site, and the only update I had made in over a year was to add Paysites Must Be Destroyed to my links page, and update my other links. It's a shame that so many sims 1 sites have closed; over half of my links were broken -- now including my own site, of course.

I don't think I really need the site now; here's the whole thing in one 13mb zip, if you want to check it out:
Sim Raccoons

There's also a missing file for the adult male skunk. Get the replacement here.

My Sims 1 pets and my other Sims 1 downloads are also at my new site.

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Using the game as a tool

Date Posted: 24th Aug 2007 at 11:24 AM

I've gotten tired of playing the Sims 2; it happens with every game I play every year or two. In the case of the Sims, I usually go back to it after a few months, so maybe it will interest me again in mid-fall. It's unfortunate, because I had several projects for the game in mind, but I can't muster up any enthusiasm to complete them. Eh, it happens.

However, I find that I still load the game from time to time to support other games that I play. I've made avatar pictures for Neverwinter Nights (the original version), for instance, and I've built Sim houses just to help me get the perspective right for drawings -- it can be a lazy artist's background creator as well. I also use it as a tool for creating role-playing characters and NPCs for pen-and-paper tabletop games; it's easier than drawing portraits and helps give unique facial features. I think it says something about the value of the game, that it can be useful even when the gameplay no longer appeals.
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Pet peeve: Clothing downloads hidden by long hair on the models

Date Posted: 6th Jul 2007 at 2:06 AM

I understand that creators want to show their creations in a beautiful setting. For clothing, that often means a beautiful sim. Most people find long hair beautiful. Do you see where I'm going with this? Long hair covers the clothing so that the back and neckline are hidden. Don't do it! I want to see that pretty necklace you added, I want to know if the shoulder straps aren't straight, and it would be nice to know if the back is in a scoop shape or straight across before I download it. This is a chronic problem here at MTS2 as well as several other sites.

Links to lovely, FREE short hair:
Joan hair by mimix5
Short ponytail by Helga
Mami's hair - Callum's Pixie hair recolored by varicev
Schuldig's Shorter Edits of H.Lin's 002 hair
Seomi hair #3
Flora's bun with bangs and looped braids (#018)
Flora's Chinese updo (#051)
Flora's wedding bun (#065)
Flora's elegant French twist (#079 B)
Lin Hair TSR001F
Raonjena hair #41
Raonjena hair #17
(Like all Raonsims hair, the hair in the above two links have no animations and move stiffly. I won't put up with that in long hair, but it's not too obviously bad with short hair.)

These only hide the very top of the sim's back, which will be okay for outfits with a scoop in the back:
Nouk Curly Ponytail for ladies of all ages
Flora's crimped African hair ponytail (#019)

This one brushes the tops of the shoulders, but doesn't hide TOO much, making it fine for strapless outfits:
Flora's beautiful waves (#038 A)

There are also Maxis hairstyles that look good: the page cut, the OFB style that looks like Marilyn Monroe's hair, and the cute style from Seasons all come to mind; I think there are a few other decent Maxis hairstyles as well. I don't visit a huge variety of sites, so I'm sure there are lots of other choices out there.

If new guidelines for clothing uploads are ever made here at MTS2, I hope that better screenshots are required. Every outfit set should show the front views and at least one back view (yes, I'm also guilty of failing to have at least one back view per clothing upload, bad me), and none of the outfit should be hidden with long hair or accessory necklaces that aren't included. No Photoshopping should be allowed -- blurred backgrounds, airbrushed hair, silly lens flare effects, and cutouts that leave confusing outlines around the model should all be forbidden! What's the point of having a screenshot if you can't make anything out because it's been messed with too much?
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Using less custom content

Date Posted: 2nd Jun 2007 at 5:02 AM

Heresy! I know, suggesting less custom content on a download site is kind of silly. But I find that my game loads much faster if I take out all the custom content that I don't use. I used to have everything by Windkeeper in my game (now those hundreds of items are all backed up on disk), and the only Windkeeper things I have now are the Maxis hairmesh she reworked, her kids PJ mesh fix, a few plastic flowers, and her fire alarm clock. I used to have over 40 different eye colors, and now all I use are five of Revoye's Pretty Eyes, which I turned into defaults with SimPE. I deleted most of my bedding, and with fewer bedding recolors, finding the one I want is much easier. I've made a ton of my own recolors, but I only use maybe half of the work I've done in my own game... no point in keeping something I don't care for anymore, even if it's something I did myself. I also deleted all of my accessories, as they've been flashing blue since I installed Pets. (Well, I kept them on my other computer, which only has OFB. I hate being without Dr. Pixel's alpha-editable earrings and necklaces on my main computer. )

So... what do I want in my game? Well, my OFB-only computer needs Numenor's Recolorable Ford Mustang and some of the nice recolors of it. Both my computers need the Giverny dress from and the Cami PJ mesh for adult females from SimChic.

For hair, I use Andie's Pixie hair for men and my recolors of it as well as a handful of hair meshes by Seomi and Callum91,, as well as the hairstyles I recently created for MTS2. I also have a few from The Site That Must Not Be Named, but they have a shocking amount of poor-quality crap there and I wound up deleting almost everything I downloaded, with only a few exceptions. Some things just don't live up to their screenshots.

Most of my makeup is my own, except for one eyeliner by Helaene and two others by Revoye.

For object meshes, I still use Ms. Barrows Maxis-match items for the Tablanca table and the Epicurious counter, Mary Lou's windows (and her global window fixes), a really nice table set by DOT that matches my favorite Maxis coffee table, and the few object meshes I've created myself. Today I blew a TSR incentive day ("only" 14 left... I wonder if they'll still be good when the Sims 3 comes out? I don't use more than four to six in a year) for an extra-tiny ceiling light made by DOT, and it's probably a keeper -- that sort of thing is way too useful to delete. EDIT: someone here on MTS2 just added an even smaller ceiling light that is just as bright as a regular ceiling light (DOT's is an accent light)! You can find it HERE.

My object recolors folder, on the other hand... well, I need to prune it again. I try not to download any meshes if it could have just as easily used an existing Maxis mesh (boo! Bad creator!), but I'm less cautious about "mere" recolors. That's why I currently have 333 files in my object recolor sub-folder. Of course, 77 of those files are my own, so those don't count! Maybe I'll load some of it on MTS2 -- the good stuff I've made, not the crappy stuff I deleted or the common stuff (like recolors of objects in the basic white/black/medium wood variations) that everyone has already. About half to one third of the bedding recolors I have on TSR are actually very nice (I liked the crappy ones better way back when I first made them), and I have maybe a dozen or so clothing recolors that are worthwhile.

I think the reason I'm so comfortable with keeping my downloads folder light has something to do with the fact that I have so many expansions. When the game first came out, there weren't very many options for anything, and very few good options. Now, I can dress sims exclusively in Maxis clothing and put them in a house furnished and decorated with exclusively Maxis content and still enjoy the way everything looks, merely because I have so many more choices. Well, unless I want to make a blond sim -- the Maxis blond colors suck. :P
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I'm not really obsessive. Would you like a grilled cheese sandwich?

Date Posted: 18th May 2007 at 7:50 PM

When I finally completed my vamp-with-bangs hair mesh, I was so sick of it that I decided to avoid the Sims entirely for a few days, and maybe give up on making hair for good. Less than 24 hours later, I found myself thinking, "Wouldn't this hair look cute with a beret?" XD

It's good, though. The hat mesh was way easier to make, now that the hard parts are already done. I'm working on the recolors now, and setting it up as described in Gwillewyn's tutorial so that the hat only shows for everyday wear and my other mesh is used the rest of the time. I've had other custom hats in my game, but I deleted them all because they stay on when showering. I realize that Seasons has some kind of option for handling hat and clothing categories, but I don't have Seasons and I want my hat-wearing sims to remove their hats when appropriate.

I'm making the golf-hat beret without the bean on top, not the military-style beret. The texture for the hat is kind of blurry, because I chose to squish it high up onto an unused part of the bitmap instead of giving it its own image. You can cut the file size of recolors tremendously by using the exact same image and alpha for each bitmap; I don't think a clearer pattern on the hat is a good enough reason to make the recolor file twice as big.

I'm in a good mood -- I'm getting working custom hats for my game! I might do the straw hat when I'm done with the beret, just to have another hat option. Yay hats!
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One step forward, two steps back

Date Posted: 16th May 2007 at 1:04 AM

I'm not doing as well on my new hair mesh as I'd hoped. After a lot of frustration, I realized that there's something screwy with the recolor I was working on. I think I can make it work better if I use a different set of hair meshes for the project, so now I'm working from a different set instead. At least I won't have to redo the mapping or the positioning -- I'd just give up on the younger age groups if I had to do that.

I almost gave up when I saw that the all-ages no-headpiece Vamp hair had already been done beautifully by VETTY here:
If I had seen that a week ago, I could have sent her a PM begging permission to use her meshes, and that would have saved me a ton of work. Too late for that now, but I'll be sure to link to her thread when I finally release my own set. Mine don't line up as nicely at the forehead, so anyone who doesn't want the bangs will be much better off with her set than using an alpha edit of mine. It also means I'm more comfortable with leaving those corners cut -- yay, less work!

All in all, this has been a very good learning experience. I've always intended to learn how to do this myself, and that makes the effort worthwhile in spite of my frustrations. My new hair won't be the most amazing thing ever, but I'm finding satisfaction in making it work and producing something of decent quality.
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Hacks that make the game sooo much better

Date Posted: 13th May 2007 at 8:39 AM

I've been enjoying Numenor's Base Game Starter PRO program. The difference between the base game and later versions is just huge: no lifetime wants, no lightning bolt attraction... and very few hacks. Most of my favorite hacks don't work well with the base game, so I've been playing without. As a result, I'm about ready to go back to playing on my other computer, the one with base game + OFB. :P

The hacks I just won't play without:

Bathroom Uses You by Pescado at MATY tops the list. This is the hack that Maxis should have coded into the game from the very beginning. It's object-related: the hack does nothing unless you put the toilet paper roll object in your bathroom, one roll per toilet. It essentially locks the door to every sim who would be shooed out, making them wait their turns instead of barging right in. It also kicks out sims who aren't there to relieve their bladder and hygiene needs, so you don't get sims clogging up the bathroom to write in their diaries. Use with his nobathroomdishes hack to prevent sims from dragging plates to the bathroom sink -- they'll trash them instead. The only downside to this hack is that it prevent sims from autonomously cleaning the bathroom; it stays dirty until the maid arrives or you order them to do it.

Macrotastics is another Pescado hack. It adds macros to the self-click menu. Without this hack, I cannot keep flower beds alive, and telling sims to clean things is a real hassle. With this hack, I can direct Macro... garden and the sim will perform all gardening tasks needed, or Macro... clean and everything gets cleaned, just as if I had clicked on every single toilet, dirty dish, and trash pile to give the order. The "kick stuff" function is perfect for sims with "fun" in the red, and I have either a flamingo or a gnome on every lot just for that.

Don't Walk Away While Cooking by Squinge at the InSIMenator forums: I hate my game without this hack. Without it, sims will put food in the oven and then wander off to play chess while the kitchen goes up in flames.

Always Flush Toilets - Wash Hands by TwoJeffs at MATY: does what it says with sims who aren't complete slobs.

Food Already Available Fix by TwoJeffs: No more sims pulling bags of chips out of the fridge when there's a platter of sandwiches out on the counter already.

No Romance Swoon by TwoJeffs: stops that irritating behavior by every sim of every aspiration just because they see a romance sim who they might not even be attracted to. I can't play a romance sim who lives with lovers or opposite sex roommates unless I use this hack, or I get too annoyed with the constant swooning.

No Finals At Night by TwoJeffs: obviously a Uni-only hack, but I wouldn't consider playing University without it. A final exam at 2am is just stupid.

CBOY Easel Usage Fix by Crammyboy at MATY: If you have more than one easel, a sim will autonomously use only the easel he has an unfinished painting on without hogging the others as well, until his painting is finished.

MQ No Spoiled Food by Monique here at MTS2: unlike my other favorites, this hack is a serious cheat. But I hate flies and I can't stand to see food spoil and be thrown out, so I use the most extreme version of this. I figure that otherwise I would just put the food in a sim's inventory or make them cook single servings every time, so it's mostly a convenience.

Of course, I have a ton of other hacks, including some critical fixes from the hackers at MATY for game-breaking bugs. But these are the ones I really, really missed when playing the base game (and the University-only game) with no hacks or custom content.
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Date Posted: 12th May 2007 at 4:15 AM

I have a mostly-finished project sitting on my desktop right now. It's a new hair mesh that combines the female vampire hair from Nightlife with the bangs from the Page hair from the base game. I've already handled the hard parts. I painstakingly remapped the top of the vamp hair to line up with the length of it so that it can be properly colored, mapped the bangs to the place once taken by the top of the skull so it can share the same bitmap, and got everything working the way it should. I love the new tools for Milkshape; the hair animates beautifully with very little effort from me at all. The teen conversion was a little more troublesome; I had a hard time toning down the animation. Before I started adjusting it, on teens the hair looked like it was trying to fly right off the head. But I finally got it handled well enough. Now I just need to convert it for children and toddlers and pretty up the recolors. It's not really much to do.

So what's stopping me? I've been ignoring the hair in favor of building lots for two days now, and I've lost my momentum. It's also a little frustrating to realize that my lovely new hair looks quite a bit like many other hairs already out there... including the very first one I recolored on MTS2. Sure, mine is animated, looks a little sleeker down the back, and will be for all ages, but is that really such a big difference? Outside of some outlandishly ridiculous styles seen only on fashion models, hasn't just about every kind of hair possible already been made?

I've already done this much work, so I'll ignore my feelings of futility and finish it up sometime over the weekend. Whoopee, my second hair mesh. I think I'll build another tiny starter lot first. :p
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