"Common Downloader Problems & Resolutions"
Extension of FAQ #9: "Game is crashing, freezing or items aren't appearing in game. Why oh why?"
These tips apply to both The Sims and The Sims 2 games. The majority of download-related problems unfortunately are caused by things outside our control. This extension to our FAQ page was designed to help you identify and resolve most of the known problems on your end. There are probably additional tips not included below so contact us if you feel any should be added here. Below is a list of common things that can corrupt download files, cause items not to show in the game and the things you can do on your end to prevent (or minimize) this from happening:
1) In the Sims 2, there is a new feature that disables viewing of user-made content. This can cause anything you download not to show in Buy Mode or Build Mode. To check if this is a problem, run The Sims 2 game, then click on Options (F5) then click on Game Options (the pic of the gears). Make sure the "Catalogs Display Custom Content" setting is marked "ON". If you have Nightlife or later expansions, click here for more detailed instructions.
2) In the Sims 2, you can also add items to a Collections folder. Check that folder (it looks like a folder) to see if anything you are looking for is in there. Some people put their content in Collections instead of the regular Buy/Build Mode views.
3) Warez or pirated software: this can cause many unforeseen problems, so if you are using that, then it's a safe bet that is the cause of your problem. Although some people have no problems with this, there are many that do. For this, and for ethical (not to mention legal) reasons, we recommend using legitimately bought products only.
4) Simzip or other sim-specific unzipping programs: They have been reported to us to sometimes corrupt certain object files, particularly hacked objects, and we recommend using Winzip or Winrar and following the download instructions on the website or readme file. It's easy to use and we have instructions for Winzip posted on our FAQ Page
5) PC Protection Programs: Typically it's not a problem, but to be on the safe side, if you know/trust your source, and are unsure of your virus scanner, don't manually scan the individual files after you download them. Firewalls set too high might affect the way a file is downloaded too. It's usually better in these cases to keep these them set at the lower "recommended" settings. ".Iff" files won't contain viruses (at least, I've never heard of it being possible), so it's ok to just download, unzip and install. To my knowledge, ".package" files won't contain viruses either. By that token, I would NOT recommend downloading any .exe files from websites you don't know very well, and if there is anything in your zip file other than a .flr, .wll, .skn, .cmx, .bmp, .jpg, .iff, .far or .txt file, don't touch it without asking your source site about it first. For the Sims 2, the most common game file extensions you'd probably see in a download file would be .package, .sims2skin, .sims2pack. There may be others as the game grows and content options expand (such as walls, floors, etc.)
6) Make sure all files are properly installed, as indicated in the "readme"
file (and our FAQ page)
7) Most Sims sites objects are made on the Windows based version of the game. If you own a Mac, most of the time the downloads you get will work just fine in your game, but there are times it won't. A lot of the time, the problem is the file name. "Truncate" it to less than 31 characters and it might fix it. But Mac and Windows are different operating systems, so there might be rare times it won't work for you.
8) Running multiple programs during a website download: The less traffic going through your phone/cable line, the less chance of corruption, although that is not much of a difference really. There is no 100% preventative measure anyway. But if you see your download status bar start out at a regular pace, then all of a sudden "whoosh" to the end, some data may have been lost and I would delete it and redownload it just to be safe.
9) Run Sim File Cop, or similar programs. They don't catch everything (like bad objects), but they don't harm anything either, so when they do catch something you'll be glad you used it. Elisims may sometimes tell you certain files are missing when in fact they aren't needed in that location it's checking and everything's fine (the Simsplus Leprachaun is an example of that).
10) Check the object requirements. If the site doesn't list them, then ask. Usually, this is a no-brainer, but with hacked objects it's a little more involved. The readme file and/or the webpage should contain all the info you need to know. If you have problems, just report it to the source site, they can help you the most (if they are helpful types that is, and we are here). If you can contact the item-maker directly by email, that is the best way (at least for me, I personally strive to answer 100% of our help emails).
11) Sometimes a problem it's not necessarily a problem with your download at all. This possibility can happen with any computer software or file you install, Sims-related or not. It's just a reality with computers we have to deal with, and the more you download from the net, the more it will be an issue.
12) Windows XP has been reported to us to sometimes cause random crashes, usually at a time when it tries to process too much game play too fast. I don't know much more about that, but wanted to mention it. Usually in this situation, just restart the game and do it again and it will work fine.
13) Any downloading off the net will require education and knowledge to minimize any potential problems. It may even require some effort on your part on occasion. Usually there are no problems with receiving and installing user-made objects using the popular tools, but one person may do the exact same thing as another person, and both get two different results. Almost all problems that do happen are preventable most of the time, if you know how to correct them. The source site will usually try to help you (we definitely will too). Most of the user-made objects out there work just fine, but sometimes need a tweak. That's just computers, it's gonna happen sometimes. Sometimes individual support is needed because like each PC, each game is different. Sometimes it's a poorly made object causing the problem (not to brag, but you won't find poorly made objects here). Sometimes it's an older object that is reacting with a newer object causing the problem. I have seen bad objects work fine, but make in-game Maxis objects start to act funny.
14) Objects will not permanently damage your game by being in it. If you have a problem and remove them, your game will return to it's prior state. If it doesn't, then it's very likely it's something else in the game causing the problem. The only exception I know of are House files - if you save the game, sometimes it can corrupt a house file and usually that's irreversible (you have to either bulldoze it or replace the house file with the original one to fix it). The best fix I know is to remove anything you downloaded recently, and reinsert them one by one, running the game each time. When the problem recurs, you will know what item is causing it. A corrupted download should be deleted and redownloaded to fix (99% of the time, "bad objects" are good objects, but simply corrupted during the electronic transmission).
15) Installing a new expansion pack: We've probably all been there and had this happen. This can (on occasion) corrupt any number of things, and maybe even cause reactions to prior "good" downloads. Sometimes because it was caused by a bad install, other times because it's a bugged expansion (such as Superstar). Every expansion has a patch, so check that out too (you can find links to them all on our Programs & Patches webpage). Most of the time, it's never an issue (I've only had to reinstall once, thank God). But it happens, so it's something to keep in mind.
16) User-made patches: Not to dis Maxis because they are good at what they do... but some common game play problems have not yet been fixed by them, so some fan sites out there (such as ours) host a few reliable, but unofficial, fixes that will help to significantly improve your game. The downside is you must remember to remove these user-made fixes prior to installing any new expansion pack or official patch. Make a note somewhere to remind yourself if you have to. You'll thank yourself later. If you don't, and you experience problems, you'll have to uninstall and reinstall the game.
17) This is pretty much off the top of my head, so if I missed anything, please let us know and we can put it here or as a thread in our Forum's TS1 Resource Room or TS2 Resource Room -- threads are currenty being moved from our older forums, and soon there are many other threads in there that discuss less-common problems and contain helpful resolutions to them. We're more than willing to help personally, so just email us or post in the forums.