Difference between revisions of "Game Help:What are Hacks?"

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What Are Hacks And How Can They Affect My Game?

Explanation

Almost all of the problems I read about people having with the game are caused by hack conflicts. People don't realise that hacks aren't so much addons to the game, as modifications to it, and they can cause problems. This page gives you a brief insight into how a computer works, and how hacks work - and more specifically, how they can upset the game.

Terminology

To clear things from the start, the CPU is a little chip inside your computer, that does all the processing. Think of it as your brain - a small part of the overall system. And as with your brain, other parts are needed to complete and make the system work. Also, the word "hack" and "game modification" is virtually interchangable, although "game modification" can also refer to changes that aren't created by hacks. In this post, treat them both as the same.

Answer

To really understand what a hack is, you need to understand how a computer program works.

Computer programs

A computer is not intelligent. That's not lining up a joke, it really isn't intelligent in the true sense, a computer has to be told exactly what to do.

When you first switch it on, a piece of software tells the main CPU how to handle each of the system components.

Then the Operating System (e.g. Windows XP) takes up the task of loading itself in. To do this it merely follows instructions in a set way.

Once Windows is loaded and you start loading programs or games, again all that's happening is a set of instructions are being followed. This involves data being flowed around the various parts of the computer system (CPU, Memory, Hard disks etc) and the output to you, the user, is what you see on the monitor. Any input from you, the user, is made by mouse/keyboard/gamepad etc.


To grab a true understanding of this, think about how you'd make a cup of tea. It doesn't *just happen*, you have do things to make it happen.

  • Get a cup.
  • Fill the kettle with enough water.
  • Put the kettle on to boil.
  • Put teabag in cup.
  • Wait for kettle to boil .. etc.

That's what a computer has to do to produce something on screen. This document your reading probably took the processing of tens of thousands of individual instructions to be displayed.

Hacks

As well as being told what to do, a computer has to be able to keep track of certain things. For example it needs to make a note that it has filled the kettle and that it has put the teabag in. This is done by keeping certain values in memory. In the English sense, this means putting something like set teabag = true in the instruction list. It gets a lot more complicated than that, but that's basically what happens.

Everything that does something in The Sims 2 has an 'identifier', which is remembered as a value. So lets take the mailbox for example, it has an 'identifier' and a set of instructions that are attached to that identifier.

Now lets say you download a hack that adds certain things onto the mailbox. The game is designed to scour through your downloads folder (among others). It will read your new mailbox hack and see that the identifier matches that of the game's one. By design, it will then read in the instructions from your downloaded mailbox and you will get all the extra things that it's designed to do.

Because it is read at a "game level" (rather than specific to any house) all your houses across all your neighbourhood will be affected by this hack.. they will all have the modified mailbox.


Now there are two real problems that can occur.

  • If you execute a particular command on the hacked mailbox that is not on the original mailbox, and then you remove the hacked one from your downloads, the saved file can become screwed up because it's looking for something that isn't there. This is why you sometimes get screwed up houses (it's not the only reason of course, sometimes it's just because of a bug in the software)
  • If you have multiple hacks, they can 'cross' each other. It's all very technical but basically things can clash together, perhaps when hack 1 says set bills = 2 and hack 2 says set bills = red. When hack 1 comes looking to see what bills is set at, it will be set at something completely unexpected. And when something unexpected happens, unless the computer has been told a specific way to deal with it, it won't know what to do. And because it's not intelligent, it will do something unexpected, such as freeze or crash the game.


Over 95% (probably) of all problems that users have with The Sims 2 are caused by hacks conflicting with each other, and hopefully now you should understand why.


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