Excuses, Excuses

I just noticed that it has been nearly two months since I posted here.
Here are my excuses, excuses…

A couple of weekends ago, I wrote the first episode of season 10 and I had great plans for “the rest of the story”. This time around, just as I had done at the start of previous seasons, I had planned on taking the story into what I call “Universe-4”. I am sure that you can guess by the name that I am intending on using TS4 instead of TS3 as the backdrop of the story. Yet, as it has also happened in the past, after playing for a number of days in TS4, I get bored and start whining about missing the weather and traveling around my town in an automobile.

I do like playing TS4, but I really hate the load screens and fact that it never rains. As a result, I keep going back to TS3. So, why, you may ask, do I keep doing this? Keep going around in circles like this?

The reason is that over the course of time, the performance of my TS3 “platform” has degraded severely to the point where the game is almost unplayable. Also, I am fully aware of the cause of this… Bad CC.

I have been playing with this current configuration on my gaming laptop for two-and-half years. Actually, if I consider that I did a full copy of my “\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3” folder from my desktop machine to my gaming laptop when I bought the laptop, you are looking at a five-year accumulation of virtual “junk” built up of corrupted custom content – simply put bad CC.

When I first started playing on this laptop in May 2015, the gameplay performance of TS3 was superb. I would say that my desktop was great, but this laptop was greater.

The MSI laptop is a x64-based Intel Core i7 processor @2.5 GHz with 16 GB RAM and running Windows 10.

However, no matter how good it was in the beginning, over time the performance degraded to a point to where the game had become barely playable at times. Simply put, it was the constant lagging.

Occasionally I would visit the NRAAS page that discusses TS3 performance and provides tips and tricks for dealing with the issue (see Tips for Better Performance). This page provides for a kitchen-sink approach with tackling the issue I was having and while I disagree with that approach overall, I think that there is something to gain with knowing all of the different aspects of the issue. My preference is a more procedural approach to correcting software issues.

In my case, I became convinced early on that the issues that I was having were due primarily to “bad CC”. I did read a page at NRAAS that describes how to identify custom content but I had trouble following the roughly drafted instructions. (see Finding CC).

I knew that most of the offending custom content came from individual sims that I had downloaded and most all of them came from the official Sims 3 Exchange and the majority of it was clothing attached to female Sims. The more obviously bad cc would be seen occasionally causing the wild distortion of a female Sim under the age of teen. These were certain articles of clothing that were mislabeled as to the lifespan age group to which they belonged.

Finally, I Did Something About It….

Finally, the other day I decided to get crazy and do something radical about this. The goal is to get my game back to where it was performance-wise in the beginning. It involved essentially getting rid of almost everything and starting over. It is important to note, but using the method that I describe below will result in the loss of some data, but that it is necessary to fix the problem. However, I knew that if I made a backup of my gameplay directory I could always easily go back to that backup.

Having said that, the first thing that I did was to make a backup (see my page “How to back-up your TS3 Gameplay Data“)

Then I made a folder on my desktop. I called the folder “New World” and then I made three sub-folders under that: “Households”, “Lots”, “Worlds”, and “Mods”. For the Mods folder, I copied my already existing Mods folder from where it resides in my “\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3” folder.

Part of the exercise did involve making sure that I was not using any bad mods and also making sure that my Mods folder was set-up correctly.

I did get rid of some Mod .packages that I was not certain of their purpose or their status. “When in doubt toss it out!”

Recalling that the “Mods” folder does not get created automatically, I reviewed an article at MTS to confirm that I had my “Mods” folder set up correctly. (see Installing Sims 3 Package Files: Setup & Files)

After I created the “New World” folder, I copied the “Options.ini” from the “The Sims 3” to the “New World”. I did this because I knew that I was comfortable with all of the game settings that I was using I wanted to continue to use those settings in the future.

I then loaded up the game and now it was time to make some hard choices about what I was going to keep and what I was going to get rid of.

I loaded whatever current game that I was playing. Once loaded, I then went into Edit Town.

Exporting Households

First I needed to export out some households. This is not the same as saving a household to what is known as the “bin”. The “bin” is that area that I always see at the bottom of the screen when in “Edit Town”. What I wanted to do was to export households from the bin and I did this by clicking on a household in the bin.

This displayed a dialog box

On the dialog, there were two circle-shaped buttons. The one on the left that looks like a misshapen asterisk is the “Share” button. Clicking this button displays another dialog that allowed me to provide information regarding the item that is being saved to the “Export” folder.

When I clicked the “check-mark” button, I saw the following dialog and I ignored it because it did not pertain to what I was doing.

I was highly confident that the households that I was exporting were NOT infected with ‘Bad CC’. If I was wrong then my effort would be doomed to failure.

If a household was not already in the “bin”, then I needed to get them into the “bin” from the “Edit Town” map. I did this by clicking on a map tag and bringing up the edit household dialog box. From here I selected the button that looks like an arrow pointing to a folder, to save the household to the “bin”. That gave me the option to save either both the house & household or the household only. I chose the latter option.

Each household that I exported from the “bin” using the share button was written to the “Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Exports” folder. Once I was done exporting households, I then went to the “Exports” and moved all the. Sims3Pack files in that I found here into the “Households” folder that I created earlier in the “New World” folder.

Exporting Lots

After households, I next needed to export out any lots that wanted to save. Again, there was a possibility of my inadvertently exporting out bad CC, so I proceeded with caution. I only exported out lots that I felt confident did not have bad CC.

Lots are exported out the same as households. The only difference is that if you want to save an empty residential lot to the bin, it does need to first be vacant of any Sims.

I did both residential and community at the same time. In one case, I needed to get some lots from one of the traveler worlds that I had set-up. I am talking specifically about a multi-lot area that I created in Lucky Palms. This is where I have a bar, a resort, and an amusement park that I built in that EA world.

I did not take too much stuff with me. The idea was to grab the most valuable stuff and get out fast. I knew that I might have some regrets about not getting this lot or that sim, but I knew that the fewer number things that I took would mean a lower chance of my copying over Bad CC.

One item that I regret not having taken was the Dutranoit Plantation that Raquel LeFey has called home for over a century… Oh, well.

However, I do know from where I can get a copy… off of my other machine.

Once I was done with exporting “Lots”, I then went to the “Exports” and moved all the .Sims3Pack files in that found here into the “Lots” folder that I created earlier in the “New World” folder.

I then said goodbye and turned off the lights because I was not going to see this world again. I quit the Sims 3 and turned to the next step, saving worlds.

Saving Worlds

There are three categories of worlds in Sims 3.

There are the worlds that came with the base game or an expansion pack. Those worlds, I did not need to worry about.

Then there are worlds that I had acquired from EA; either the free Riverview world or the one’s that I bought with points from EA, like Monte Vista or Lucky Palms. Those worlds I could login to EA and download again or I could just get them out of the “Downloads” folder.

Finally, there are custom worlds that either I or someone had created.

From the “Downloads” folder, I identified all of the worlds that I wanted to keep. I copied about half dozen worlds from the “Downloads” folder to the “Worlds” folder in the “New World” folder that I created earlier.

In the “New World” folder, I now had all of the stuff that I wanted to keep including the Options.ini file. I also had a full back-up, in case things went south.

Oops! There were a few more items I needed to save. These were a few store content items that I had bought with points from EA and did not want hassle without having to download them again. In my case, it was the basketball court, the Boardwalk for Roaring Heights and then the Venice Gondola lot item. I copied those items from the “Downloads” folder.

The items that I was leaving behind that most likely hosted Bad CC in some form or another was

  • All saved games – bye-bye
  • Everything in the SavedSims folder – gone
  • And most everything in the Downloads folder – out the door.

Bye, Bye Bad Sims

I then went to the Documents\Electronic Arts\ and renamed the folder “The Sims 3” to be “The Sims 3-copy”. Since I already had a back-up, I could have merely deleted the folder. So, this was essentially a 2nd back-up.

With “The Sims 3” gone, the game would generate a new folder with that name and a default directory structure.

I launched TS3 and now I was looking at a brand-new install with prompt to start a new game.

What you will notice when your run the game for first time is that the all option settings are now at default and many of the settings are probably not to your liking.

You will need to launch the game initially. It is okay but not necessary to follow through steps for creating a new game. Once that is done, then save and quit.

I then used a text editor such as notepad to edit the newly created “options.ini” file located in the also newly created “The Sims 3” folder.

I was not looking to change anything in this file, but I was however looking one particular entry called “lastdevice

I wanted to replace the new created Options.ini with the file by the same name that I copied into the “New Worlds” folder when I started this endeavor, but before I did this I wanted to make sure that the value for lastdevice was what was showing in the new config file. This entry sometimes changes and went it does it triggers an event whereby everything in the Options.ini gets set back to default.

Once I was satisfied that the old options.ini file had the correct (current) lastdevice setting, I copied that file to the “The Sims 3” folder and overwrote the existing file.

Starting Over Again

Now I brought up the Game Launcher for the next step of installing all of the stuff that I saved in the earlier steps. At this point, my “Downloads” folder was empty.

I started with the “Worlds” folder under “New Worlds” and I copied the entire contents over to the “Downloads” folder in the “The Sims 3” folder. Looking back at the Game Launcher, I could see the Worlds ready to be installed. I installed all of the worlds (mostly EA and one custom world). After installing one of the EA worlds (Sunlit Tides) I notice that besides the world being added to the “Installed Content” tab, there was some extra CC that came with. Just because it came from EA does not mean that it is necessarily “good CC” or “bad CC”, but this is how it starts and this where “buyer beware” begins.

Once done installing worlds, I launched the game that I had previously started and played for a while to see how things were going.

So far, so good. The game was running very smoothly and I wanted to keep it that way.

Next, I installed the lots that I had saved to the \New World\Lots folder, by copying those items to the “Downloads” folders.

I installed the lots and then did another test run with the game to see how things were going. Things were still running smoothly, so I proceeded on to doing the households.

There are at least two things that I noticed after I went through this effort. The game is definitely moving faster. I am noticing zero lag. Also, because the game is moving faster, more things are happening. There is more activity going on because more can happen now.

It was definitely worth the effort.

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