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Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#1 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 2:34 AM Last edited by plasticbox : 26th May 2008 at 9:33 PM.
Default Building to the edge of a lot (EXPERIMENTAL) – Practical example: Row Houses
Please note -- 2008-05-26:

We're keeping this tutorial up *for reference*. If you're looking for a safe, shareable way to build rowhouses, see the Fake row houses tutorial (posted 2008-05-26) and the LotAdjuster download thread (you'll need v1.1 and up).


--

Building right up to the edge of a lot is indirectly possible by means of a test version of the LotExpander (v1.2.7.8) that can also shrink lots, not only expand them. This means you can

1. build the house you desire on a lot that's 10 tiles *larger* on every side you want the wall to touch
2. Shrink the lot by 1 unit (= 10 tiles) on each side
3. Voilà: walls, foundations, roofs, everything .. right up to the edge of your lot.

Below is a practical example, with pictures.

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Please note -- 2007-11-04

LotExpander 1.2.7.8 has been taken down; there is no version available right now that has a shrinking feature. It may be added back into a future test version. I'm leaving this tutorial up for now as a point of reference and will try to keep it updated in case of new developments; that's probably easier than everyone having to wade through long unwieldy research threads.

See below for more info.

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Warning -- updated 2007-11-03

Testing has shown that at this point in time, lots shrunk in this fashion are NOT safe for public consumption. This tutorial is ONLY for people who want to have fun building things for themselves and don't care too much about their neighbourhood otherwise.

Quote from one of the research threads: "What I'm getting here is what's called an Access Violation error. [..] The code simply loads a dword blindly out of a table with said index without bounds checking, and kaboom". Also: "If you are not getting the error, it is not safe to assume that this miscalculation isn't occurring. In fact, you may well be corrupting valuable data". "Data" in this case doesn't necessarily mean just the lot, theoretically it can be anything within the game's memory.

This means: Don't do this in a neighbourhood you care about. Data corruption may occur regardless of whether you see crashes in-game. Until further notice, do not redistribute shrunk lots anywhere without a warning that they may be corrupt.

Right now we don't know whether lots are being corrupted during the shrinking process, or if the game just can't handle them. Be aware that if the former is true, they will remain corrupt even if we subsequently find and fix any problems in the LotExpander code. I would suggest that you make a backup (package the lots) before shrinking them, so that you can shrink them again with a possible future version instead of having to rebuild from scratch.

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More Warnings/Precautions -- read before you start

Only use LotExpander 1.2.7.8 for this. 1.2.7.8 is the latest stable test version. If you use anything else, you're only making it harder to track down your problem if you run into one.
Only use 100% flat lots. If you're not sure whether your neighbourhood is flat, put down a blank lot first, bulldoze it (this will flatten the area), then put your actual lot in its place.
The zone to be deleted must be completely blank. Do not build anything there, or put objects on it. If your lot is inhabited, make sure that no sims are in this area.
Read the LotExpander tutorial before using the LotExpander. In particular, always back up your neighborhood before running the program. See the LotExpander thread, in particular the tutorial posted here. To be extra safe, you can move your other neighbourhoods to the desktop before fiddling with this (the game can't damage them when they're out of reach).

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Known issues -- 2007-11-03 (LE 1.2.7.8)

7PM crash -- intermittent crashes to desktop occuring at nightfall (7PM or when triggering Night in Buy/Build Mode). All crashes reported so far happened with newly moved-in CAS sims. In the event of a crash, there is never a crash on replay.

For some people, BV users in particular, entering the lot in Build mode, making a change, and saving, circumvents this crash. A save during gameplay has also been reported to prevent crashing. However: no crash does not have to mean that there's nothing wrong with the lot.


Crash on save/load: Crash to desktop furing the loading screen when trying to load or save/exit a lot. Circumstances vary wildly. Attributed to either data corruption or inability of the game to handle shrunk lots the way they're now. I have seen this when loading/saving an uninhabited shrunk lot with only one piece of roof on it, so at least in this case it's not related to sims on the lot or gameplay events.


More information:

R+D thread on lot resizing @ mts2
Statement by Mootilda on taking down LE 1.2.7.8
7PM crash thread @ MATY
Backdoor Lane 42 -- test upload (upload removed, thread left up for reference)
Hummingbird Court -- another test upload (removed)

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How and where to provide feedback

* Questions about this tutorial: Obviously, post here.

* Build mode issues: Please use this thread for any and all issues related to building stuff on resized lots. Do not clutter up the R+D thread with that! If any issues turn out to be related to the LotExpander itself, you can be sure I'm going to relay your information, but the R+D thread is busy enough as is -- we don't need to discuss basement windows there.

* Gameplay issues: If anything other than the currently known issues comes up, use this thread until further notice. If you can contribute anything related to the crashing/lot corruption, please post in the 7PM crash thread or in R+D if it's related to the LotExpander itself.

* Installing/using the Lot Expander: Check first whether the problem also occurs with the current released version of the LotExpander. If so, report the problem on the LotExpander thread. Only post in the R+D thread if you're 100% sure your problem is specific to the test version we're using here (1.2.7.8).

--------------


Thanks

This is entirely based on Mootilda's work (which in turn is based on Andi8104's version), I only have the honor to explain one possible use out of many. I have been wanting to build row houses since the Base Game era, and I'm really happy that this is now possible. Thank you, and thanks to the fearless testers: aelflaed, Inge Jones, MaryLou, niol, Mutantbunny and everyone else.

Additional extra thanks to Rascal, Simsample, KariMinger/Zazazu, DocDoofus, behold_the_muse, baratron, dizzy, ladykatsim, JMP, ebonyspiral, MadameMim, ikbod, mildlydisguised, Emma, Quinctia and everyone else for your help in trying to figure out the 7PM crashing issue.

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Last warning: Back up now if you haven't already.

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Step 0

Firstly, you need LotExpander 1.2.7.8; you will also need the .NET framework to run it. For any questions regarding the LotExpander itself (not its use), please refer to the official download thread -- I'm not going to provide support for the software itself here, I'm only explaining one particular use of it.


Step 1

I'm building a row house for a 1x2 lot, so I need to start with a 3x2 lot (I'm going to shrink it only on the left and right, so I don't need extra space in the back in this case). I'm putting a strip of sidewalk in the middle so that I can easily see the buildable area. (Ignore that mailbox/trashcan on the other side of the street, it belongs to the lot over there).


Build a house 10 tiles within the lot border. Save and quit.


Step 2

Shrink the lot (1 unit = 10 tiles); quit the LotExpander and restart your game. Note how it says "Old Size: 3x3" -- this is because the street technically also belongs to the lot. The street is 1 unit wide, the lot itself (the buildable area) is 3x2 -> 3x3 together.


When you re-enter your neighbourhood, the lot will still appear with its old size. Don't worry about that, it will be fixed in a second.


Step 3

Enter the lot -- ta-daa: Row house. In order to get the game to register the new lot size (we changed it behind its back, after all), you need to do one small building action now -- add/remove a floortile or a bit of inside wall, for example. Save and exit the lot, done.


You can place these next to each other, move them around, put them in the bin and back .. they work just like any other lot. Walls and roofs on these lots have been confirmed to be Seasons-proof.


Building tips

* Two tiles in from the lot border, the following things can't be changed anymore after the lot has been shrunk, so you need to build them before:

- Foundations
- Walls (all walls, in- and outside!)
- Half-Walls
- Modular stairs
- Floor tiles on level 1 and up
- Roofs
- Stages
- Greenhouses
- Anything at the lot border that relies on moveobjects on / "theoretical" floortiles (the white borders that show where a floor tile would be) -- like for example, off-grid columns

* All of these can still be deleted after shrinking, with the exception of foundations (see screenshot "RHT_07", below): those you can only delete within the normal limits (2 tiles in from the lot border). For larger basements, build them beforehand.

* Windows are a special case -- they can only be added after shrinking if you turn moveobjects on (cf Niol, post 4). Also, quoting Mootilda: "Windows can disappear during the shrinking process if they are pointing in the "wrong" direction. To fix this, you can expand the lot back to it's original size, delete the wall and then undo the deletion (which will restore the windows), and then flip the windows and shrink the lot again."

* After shrinking, walls and floors near the lot border can only be repainted with shift-click (by painting the entire house / whole room) -- you cannot reach them directly, since they're outside the regular buildable area.

* Don't use the modular stairs that came with OfB and Pets ("Flight of Fancy", "Elleval Euro", and "New and Modern") in row houses next to an outside wall -- they display off by one tile in neighbourhood view, which means they will (visually) poke through the wall into the neighbouring lot. Thanks darcee for pointing this out.

If you find you've forgotten something, you can always go back and re-expand the lot, change stuff, and then shrink it again -- so don't worry too much.


Playability tips

* Keep in mind that you might want to play this lot with visible neighbours on: your viewing area will be smaller than normal when the neighbouring houses are getting in the way. Plan your floorplan accordingly.

* I normally play houses looking towards the street; row houses I prefer to play from the front side because otherwise I can't see the sidewalk when looking at upper levels (I can't peek around the sides of the house like normal). For me, this means that large pieces of furniture (showertubs, pianos) should never be parallel to the street in a row house, they block the view inside the house.

* Make sure your mailbox and other important things are still accessible when sims can not walk around the house.

* It's still perfectly possible to put driveways in the back of a house -- cars will teleport from there anyway.



Please let me know if anything is unclear with this tutorial (DO NOT PM ME, post here) and I will try to explain it better. Again, I do not provide support for the LotExpander -- any questions on installing/using it, please refer to LotExpander thread. This thread is only about building issues.


Have lots of fun with this!

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
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Deviant Savant
retired moderator
#2 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 3:25 AM
This is fantastic! I can finally have the city blocks I've always wanted. :D

"I guess I should warn you: If I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I said" - Alan Greenspan
Mad Poster
#3 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 4:24 AM
Site Helper
#4 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 4:39 AM
plasticbox,

Just some comments on your post:

You should probably mention that the LotExpander which has the option to shrink is still a test version... I'm about ready to release it, but I've still got a few problems to work out. Once it's released, you can just point to the main LotExpander thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plasticbox
build the house you desire on a lot that's 10 tiles *larger* than you actually want
The house has to be 10 tiles wider on every side to be shrunk, so it needs to be 20 tiles wider, not 10.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plasticbox
Two tiles in from the lot border, the following things can't be changed anymore after the lot has been shrunk, so you need to build them before:
You should add Windows to this list. As well, I've noticed that windows can disappear during the shrinking process if they are pointing in the "wrong" direction. To fix this, you can expand the lot back to it's original size, delete the wall and then undo the deletion (which will restore the windows), and then flip the windows and shrink the lot again.

Otherwise, this is a great tutorial. Thanks so much for writing this!
Mad Poster
#5 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 6:06 PM
Default Additional infos for windows placement after lot shrinking:
Windows can be added back easily with the moveobject on cheat when the object arrow is facing inside the room. Diagonal windows can be made on diagonal walls before the application of the stated cheat.
Instructor
#6 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 9:16 PM
I Want to say that this is one of the best finds ever, Pb.
Thanks very much for your revolutionary find. ^-^
Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#7 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 9:33 PM
Thanks Mootilda and niol; I've added your info to the OP. Hopefully the 10 tiles thing is less ambiguous now?

poplers, it's not really *my* find -- on the contrary, I could only contribute much less than I would have wanted to. You need to thank Mootilda first of all, and then the more active testers/co-developers, and lots of other people .. I'm only the PR department here =).

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
Site Helper
#8 Old 25th Oct 2007 at 9:53 PM Last edited by Mootilda : 26th Oct 2007 at 1:00 AM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by plasticbox
Thanks Mootilda and niol; I've added your info to the OP. Hopefully the 10 tiles thing is less ambiguous now?
Yes, it's just fine now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by niol
Windows can be added back easily with the moveobject on cheat when the object arrow is facing inside the room. Diagonal windows can be made on diagonal walls before the application of the stated cheat.
I tried this solution, but the windows didn't place properly on the very edges of the lot. Instead, I get a window frame with wallpaper inside.
Site Helper
DELETED POST
26th Oct 2007 at 12:59 AM
This message has been deleted by Mootilda.
Lab Assistant
#9 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 3:57 AM
YAY!!!! I've always wanted to be able to build terraced houses too, am so happy to find out how to do it thanks!!!
Forum Resident
#10 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 5:38 AM
Lot Expander .10 isn't working right for me. I have a 3x2 lot that I built in order to shrink it down to 1x1 (shrinking it on three sides).

I never got to that point. Lot Expander insists that the 3x2 lot is 3x3. No. It's a 3x3 I'm not going to argue with it, just wait for further instructions.

Yes, it is a 3x2. Started the game up. Double-checked it. Took a pic even, if further proof is necessary.
Site Helper
#11 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 6:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Doofus
Lot Expander .10 isn't working right for me. I have a 3x2 lot that I built in order to shrink it down to 1x1 (shrinking it on three sides).

I never got to that point. Lot Expander insists that the 3x2 lot is 3x3. No. It's a 3x3 I'm not going to argue with it, just wait for further instructions.

Yes, it is a 3x2. Started the game up. Double-checked it. Took a pic even, if further proof is necessary.
The LotExpander is including the space for the road.
Mad Poster
#12 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 6:21 AM Last edited by niol : 29th Oct 2007 at 6:35 AM.
Quote:
...
Windows can be added back easily with the moveobject on cheat when the object arrow is facing inside the room. Diagonal windows can be made on diagonal walls before the application of the stated cheat.
...

Quote:
...
I tried this solution, but the windows didn't place properly on the very edges of the lot. Instead, I get a window frame with wallpaper inside.
...

just hold on and save it. A reload will fix the graphics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plasticbox
(from the the tutorial)...
Windows are a special case -- they can only be added after shrinking if you turn moveobjects on...

1. I think it may mean "Windows are a special case -- they can be more safely added after lot shrinking if you turn moveobjects on..."
2. I forgot to mention to save the lot and reload it as mentioned earlier in this post.


Doc Doofus,

The 3x2 lot we call in-game is actually a 30x20 lot with a 30x10 grids/tiles road for, so the lot is actually a 30x30 lot itself and the LotExpander uses this total area and size for application. The road is reserved to take one side of the lot regardless of its length/width dependent on the lot's total area.

So, for more examples,
1.
a 4x5 lot in-game is a 40x60 lot and hence 4x6 in the Lot Expander.
2.
a 3x4 lot in-game is a 30x50 lot and hence 3x5 in the Lot Expander.
3.
a 1x1 lot in-game is a 10x20 lot and hence 1x2 in the Lot Expander.

See, the extra 1 or 10 grids/tiles is as Mootilda said used for the formation of the road.

And actually there're more details. But for general uses with the LotExpander, this little bit of info is necessary and already sufficient for the users to understand in the first place.
Site Helper
DELETED POST
26th Oct 2007 at 6:30 AM
This message has been deleted by Mootilda.
Site Helper
#13 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 1:17 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by niol
So, for more examples,
1.
a 4x5 lot in-game is a 40x60 lot and hence 4x6 in the Lot Expander.
2.
a 3x4 lot in-game is a 30x50 lot and hence 3x5 in the Lot Expander.
3.
a 1x1 lot in-game is a 10x20 lot and hence 1x2 in the Lot Expander.
Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. The LotExpander uses the size of the lot which is stored in the neighborhood package. Depending upon other information in the neighborhood package, a 4x5 lot in-game may be stored as either a 4x6 lot or a 5x5 lot in the neighborhood package.

So, the user just needs to be aware that one of the two dimensions will contain an additional space for the road, and that the maximum size of a lot is 6x6, including space for the road. The minimum size of a lot is either 1x2 or 2x1.

Of course, if a lot (such as the Broke house in Pleasantview) contains multiple roads, then the size of the lot will be increased accordingly.
Test Subject
#14 Old 26th Oct 2007 at 2:48 PM
YES YES YES!!
A dream come true,, fantastic!!
Thanks man
Test Subject
#15 Old 27th Oct 2007 at 2:08 AM
Thank you for this tutorial. It was very clear and easy to use

I think I have found something that might be helpful to add, for those trying this out. You have to be careful in your choice of modular stairs when building row houses. Because the walls are side-to-side, some of the stairs from neighboring lots can poke through the wall into the next home. It doesn't affect playability, but it is ugly to see. The problem stairs I've found so far are the New and Modern stairs (I think from the Pets EP?). The only other ones I've tried are the Holy Smoke stairs, and they work. And also I know the Steadfast stairs, which I noticed you used in your houses, work also. I have no idea about staircases, since I don't use them.

I thought it might be worth a mention, since it's such a pain in the butt to go back and resize everything to change them.

Thanks again! And thanks Mootilda and everyone involved for the tools to make it happen
Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#16 Old 27th Oct 2007 at 2:26 AM
Oh! Thanks for this useful post, darcee. I know what you mean -- the stairs that came with OfB ("Elleval Euro Stairs" and "Flight of Fancy") have horribly wrong neighbourhood impostors. I never use them anymore because I hate how they stick through the walls -- normally "only" a visual issue, but in a row house I can imagine how annoying it must be. All stairs from the Base Game should be OK, I've never seen this problem with them.

I don't have Pets, so I'm not sure what those other stairs are called .. did you mean, "New and Modern", literally, is the in-game name?

I'll update the OP accordingly.

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
Test Subject
#17 Old 27th Oct 2007 at 3:10 PM
Yes, that's what they're called, "New and Modern". They're open underneath and come in three different colors. I'll let you know if I find any others that don't work.
Site Helper
#18 Old 27th Oct 2007 at 11:48 PM Last edited by Mootilda : 28th Oct 2007 at 12:56 AM.
plasticbox, I believe that it would be helpful if you could remind people that the shrinking feature of the LotExpander is unfinished and in testing, that we are seeing intermittent in-game crashing which may be caused by corruption of the lot during the shrinking process, and that this corruption will remain with any lots shrunken with the current test version, even if we subsequently find and fix any problems in the LotExpander code.

As well, I would ask people who are sharing shrunken lots to warn people about this possible corruption and to post a link to their upload here, so that we can keep track of any issues which may be related to the LotExpander.
Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#19 Old 28th Oct 2007 at 2:32 AM
Right, that got a bit lost when I moved the gameplay issues part over to the other thread. Fixed it, thank you.

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
Field Researcher
#20 Old 28th Oct 2007 at 10:49 AM
Allthough this is still in testing, I thank you both for your wonderful information & discovery - I've always hated not being able to build row houses!

Here have a virtual

Life's a game, so let's play!
Site Helper
#21 Old 28th Oct 2007 at 7:12 PM
plasticbox, another suggestion for your tutorial:

People using the LotExpander should always back up their neighborhood before running the program. We just had a report from someone who's lot may have been corrupted because the area which was deleted was not empty.

The standard LotExpander tutorial suggests a backup, but I believe that people who are using your tutorial are not necessarily reading the LE tutorial as well.
Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#22 Old 28th Oct 2007 at 7:38 PM
Added that, thank you.

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
Mad Poster
#23 Old 29th Oct 2007 at 6:38 AM
As for the lot dimension, one more thing to add is tht a lot like Broke's corner lot is actually 30x30 instead due to a side road. Therefore, the number of road can also affect the lot size count.
Pettifogging Legalist!
retired moderator
Original Poster
#24 Old 29th Oct 2007 at 8:09 AM
Right now it says: "The street technically belongs to the lot" -- is that unclear?

Stuff for TS2 · TS3 · TS4 | Please do not PM me with technical questions – we have Create forums for that.

In the kingdom of the blind, do as the Romans do.
Test Subject
#25 Old 30th Oct 2007 at 9:30 PM
Thank you VERY MUCH everybody, this was exactly what i wanted.
However i couldn't reduce the lot...
I have all the EP's up to seasons and tried to use LotExpander 1.2.8
I just culdn't put a "-1" like it's circled in the third image of this tutorial..

could you guys help me ?

_gu
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