Tutorials:Combining Maxis Neighborhoods

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Contents

Overview

This tutorial shows you how to add the Maxis neighborhoods as downtowns or shopping districts to a main neighborhood, the way I have made my Megahood. Though there are already merged versions available such as my Megahood and Uber-Megahood, you may wish to add more or less or some different combination. Thus, this tutorial will show you how.


A Note: Preplayed/Custom Neighborhoods

It is technically possible to add Maxis or custom neighborhoods as a sub-hood of a preplayed Maxis or custom neighborhood. However, I will NOT be demonstrating how to do that or providing support for it. If you would like to add Maxis or custom neighborhoods as a sub-hood of a custom or preplayed neighborhood, I strongly suggest you read over this tutorial several times to understand the basic concepts, try it with the Maxis neighborhoods to get the hang of it, and then consider whether you want to do it on your chosen neighborhoods.

If you -do- decide to try it on a custom 'hood, keep a backup!! And please don't ask me for help on it. If you do as this tutorial says, just for your stuff, it should work just fine, but...


Skill Level

This is not an easy, quick, or fun tutorial!

The first time I did this technique it took me hours and six tries to get it right. I have tried to learn from my mistakes, as well as explain as clearly as I can -why- you are doing everything so hopefully it will be easier for you than it was for me, but this is still kind of tricky. It's also the sort of thing that you won't know if any of it is working right until the -very end-. So please, do not go asking me if there isn't an easier way, or if I can just do whatever for you - you have been warned. If you can follow directions and understand clearly-written English, then you shouldn't have any trouble, but it's still going to take a while!


You will need

  • SimPE. I am using 0.71.17 (QA Edition) - so I can edit Apartment Life files without issues - but any version should work as long as it is compatible with the EPs you have installed.
  • Sims 2 plus either Nightlife or Open for Business. You will need Nightlife if you want to make your sub-hoods as downtowns, or Open for Business if you want them as shopping districts.
  • A program to rename files. Bulk Renamer Pro is recommended, what I will be using for this tutorial, and free.
  • Suggested: If you are making your combined neighborhood for upload, you should use Numenor's AnyGameStarter to make it. Otherwise it will require all EPs you have installed, regardless of whether they are actually required for your combined neighborhood to work.
  • Suggested: The Cleaned Up Templates, so you don't get unnecessary, extraneous sims showing up that you really don't need.


Thanks to

SaraMK, for her original tutorial on merging Maxis 'hoods. I mean no disrespect or insult toward her whatsoever by creating this tutorial - her tutorial allowed me to create the first Megahood and for that I am very grateful. However, I found her original tutorial kind of hard to follow due to the lack of explaining -why- things were being done. I learn better when I'm not only told what to do, but why I'm doing it.

Thus I am rewriting it as I make the Apartment Life Uber-Megahood to hopefully explain a little more about why things are being done for those who may have been confused by her tutorial.

Thank you, SaraMK.  :)


Before You Start

What I found most confusing about doing the Megahood to begin with was not understanding why I was doing each step. Thus, here is a quick summary of exactly what we will be doing in the tutorial itself. Read over this a few times and see if you can wrap your head around it. If not, that's okay - you can refer back to it later if you get stuck.

  • Part 1 - Make Backups: Save a copy of the default sub-hood template you will be editing, so you can restore the un-edited version once you're done.
  • Part 2 - Create a Set of Sub-Hoods: Make a set of sub-hoods attached to a fresh neighborhood - the same type and amount you will end up with total, so you can use them to get the internal ID Numbers each of them uses.
  • Part 3 - Copy Needed Files: Copy the set of sub-hoods you just made as well as the neighborhoods you will end up attaching to separate folder.
  • Part 4 - Extract ID Numbers: Open the sub-hood files you just made, using SimPE, and get their internal ID Numbers extracted.
  • Part 5 - Make a Default Sub-Hood: Attach the default sub-hood (Downtown or Bluewater Village) to a new neighborhood file. This will end up as the actual default Downtown or Bluewater Village attached to your finished neighborhood.
  • Part 6 - Remove the Default Sub-Hood: Take the newly-made sub-hood out of your neighborhood folder and put it in a separate folder for now, allowing you to continue to attach sub-hoods of the same type, which the game will think are the default.
  • Part 7 - Add Strangetown as a Sub-Hood: Extract the ID Number for the default sub-hood, and replace the default sub-hood files with the ones from Strangetown and rename them. Replace the ID Number in the Strangetown files with the one from the default sub-hood. Then go in-game and attach Strangetown as a default sub-hood. Exit the game, rename the new sub-hood files, and put them in a separate folder for now.
  • Part 8 - Add Veronaville as a Sub-Hood: Replace the Strangetown sub-hood files with the ones from Veronaville and rename them. Replace the ID Number in the Veronaville files with the one from the default sub-hood. This "replace-rename-replace ID Number" setup is what makes the game think whatever neighborhood you've added is the default. Then go in-game and attach Veronaville as a default sub-hood. Exit the game, rename the new sub-hood files, and put them in that same separate folder.
  • Part 9 - Repeat Attaching Remaining 'Hoods: If you have more neighborhoods to add, repeat the above step. Replace, rename, replace ID Number, attach, remove.
  • Part 10 - Replace Template: When all of the attachments are finished, replace the default sub-hood template with the backup you made in Part 1.
  • Part 11 - Reassemble: In SimPE, replace the ID Numbers in the new sub-hoods you've made with the extracted ones you got in Part 4, and then put everything back in the appropriate neighborhood folder.
  • Part 12 - Test In-Game: Check in-game that everything is working properly. Load the main neighborhood and all sub-hoods, and open at least one house in each to make sure all is well.
If that's still a bit confusing, that's okay - I'll explain in more detail as I go along. Just try to keep the above steps in mind and look back here if you're confused.

The Tutorial

The tutorial itself! Make sure you've cleaned your glasses, had some coffee, and engaged your brain, because this is gonna get complicated.

Part 1 - Make Backups

Though you can do this as you go along, it's REALLY best to do this first so you don't forget! We're going to make a copy of the folders we'll be changing.

1. Create Backups Folder: Create a new folder somewhere safe to hold your backups. I suggest Program Files\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhood Backups\

2. Copy Default Sub-Hood Folder: If you are going to make your combined neighborhood with downtowns, copy the Downtown folder. If you are using the shopping districts, copy the Bluewater Village folder.

  • Downtown: Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Nightlife\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\D001
  • Bluewater Village: Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Open For Business\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\B001

Part 2 - Create a Set of Sub-Hoods

The very first thing to do is to get a set of sub-hoods made - the same number as you want to have when you're done. We'll need these to get the right numbering at the end.

I am going to be demonstrating using Pleasantview as my base neighborhood (N001) and I will be using shopping districts from Open for Business as my sub-hood. If you are doing something different, your steps will be somewhat mismatched from mine, but you should still be able to follow what I'm doing here.

1. Generate Fresh User Files: If you have been playing already with your existing user files, you should let the game generate fresh ones. Do this by renaming your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2 folder to "The Sims 2 Backup" or similar.

2. Load the game. It will take a while to load the game as it will be generating fresh copies of all the needed files.

3. Load Base Neighborhood: Load the neighborhood you want to make the base neighborhood (in my case, Pleasantview). This may take a few minutes if it has to create the stealth sub-hoods like Weather, Hobbies, and Magic.

4. Attach a Default Sub-Hood: If you're going to be using downtowns as your sub-hoods, attach a default Downtown. If you're going to be using shopping districts (as I am), attach a default Bluewater Village.

5. Attach More Sub-Hoods: Now, attach another sub-hood of the same type. It doesn't matter what you name it, what map you choose, or what terrain type you choose. Repeat for as many sub-hoods as you need to have total.
Example: I want to attach Bluewater Village, Strangetown, Veronaville, Riverblossom Hills, Desiderata Valley, and Belladonna Cove as my shopping districts, so I need to first attach Bluewater Village as my first shopping district, and then I will attach 5 more for the other Maxis neighborhoods that I want as shopping districts. This gives me a total of 6 attached shopping districts.

6. Exit the game.


Part 3 - Copy Needed Files

Now, we're going to copy the files that we're going to be working with elsewhere so we can keep everything straight and tidy.

1. Make Working Files Folder: Make yourself a folder to hold the files you'll be working with. I suggest making a folder on your Desktop for this. I'm going to call mine "Uber-Megahood" and whenever I refer to this folder to hold your working files, I'll be calling it the "Uber-Megahood folder" from now on.

2. Copy Needed Neighborhoods: Open your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods folder. Inside you'll see a set of folders. Copy all of the folders that you want to have attached as sub-hoods and paste the copies into your Uber-Megahood folder on your Desktop.
Example: In my case, I'm attaching Strangetown, Veronaville, Riverblossom Hills, Desiderata Valley, and Belladonna Cove... so I need to copy all of those folders. That is, Strangetown (N002), Veronaville (N003), Riverblossom Hills (G001), Desiderata Valley (F001), and Belladonna Cove (E001).
3. Create Sub-Hoods Subfolder: In your Uber-Megahood folder, create a subfolder. Call it "Sub-Hoods".

CombiningHoods-01.jpg
4. Copy Created Sub-Hood Files: Now, open your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods\N001 folder. This is the Pleasantview folder (so if you're editing another neighborhood, you'll open the appropriate folder instead). You should see four folders inside, and quite a few files. Let's ignore everything that isn't .package files for a moment.

In my case, I have a N001_Neighborhood.package file. This is the main neighborhood file. And then I have 10 suburb files - N001_Suburb001.package through N001_Suburb009.package. The first three suburb files (001, 002, and 003) are stealth sub-hoods... Weather, Hobbies, and Magic. I can ignore those. The last six suburb files, 004-009, are those that I made in Part 2. The new sub-hoods you made will always be the last ones, and there will always be the same number as you made in Part 2.

Select the .package files for the sub-hoods you made and copy them into the Uber-Megahood\Sub-Hoods folder that you made in the last step. Note that if you are using a downtown instead of a shopping district, these will be called downtowns rather than suburbs.

Part 4 - Extract ID Numbers

Let's go ahead and extract the ID Numbers from the sub-hoods too while we're at it. These are the IDs which properly attach the sub-hoods to the neighborhood, and they'll need to be correct in our finished version. We won't be using them yet, but we may as well go ahead and extract them.

CombiningHoods-03.jpg
1. Make ID Subfolders: Make a new subfolder in your Uber-Megahood folder. Call this subfolder "ID-Bluewater Village" (or "ID-Downtown" if you're using Nightlife downtowns). You can also go ahead and make subfolders for the rest of the IDs you will need:
  • ID-Strangetown
  • ID-Veronaville
  • ID-Riverblossom Hills
  • ID-Desiderata Valley
  • ID-Belladonna Cove

2. Extract ID Number: In your Uber-Megahood\Sub-Hoods folder, open the first suburb file (in this case, N001_Suburb004.package) in SimPE. Under the Resource Tree (on the top left), click on the line that says "ID Number (IDNO)(1)" and then right-click on the ID Number line under the Resource List (on the top right). On the right-click menu, choose Extract. Extract the file with its default filename to your Uber-Megahood\ID-Bluewater Village folder that you just made.

3. Extract Remaining ID Numbers: Repeat the last step for the rest of the suburb files in the Uber-Megahood\Sub-Hoods folder. Whichever order you want the neighborhoods attached in is the order you should open and extract.

Example: For my neighborhood, Bluewater Village is first (004), followed by Strangetown (005), Veronaville (006), Riverblossom Hills (007), Desiderata Valley (008), and Belladonna Cove (009).
Tip: It may be helpful for you to make a couple notes about what order yours are in and their numbers. I use a little notebook beside my keyboard for this. This will help keep track of things as you continue.
4. Delete Sub-Hoods Folder: You can go ahead and delete the Uber-Megahood\Sub-Hoods folder now. You only needed those files to extract their IDs, nothing else.

Part 5 - Make a Default Sub-Hood

Now we're going to create a new default sub-hood, similar to how we already did, but just the one.

1. Delete Neighborhoods Folder: Delete your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods folder.

2. Run the game. It will regenerate a fresh Neighborhoods folder with new copies of everything (yes, again).

3. Delete Extra Neighborhoods: Once the game loaded, delete all but your base neighborhood - so in my case I'll delete everything that isn't Pleasantview from the neighborhood chooser.

4. Load Base Neighborhood: Mine is Pleasantview. It will again create the stealth-hoods if it did before.

5. Attach Default Sub-Hood: Once it has loaded, attach the default sub-hood again. Since I'm doing shopping districts, I'll attach a default Bluewater Village.

6. Exit the game.

Part 6 - Remove the Default Sub-Hood

In order to attach more "default" sub-hoods, we have to remove the existing one temporarily.

1. Make "Finished Subfolder: Make a new subfolder in your Uber-Megahood folder on your Desktop. Call your new folder "Finished".

2. Remove Default Sub-Hood: Open your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods\N001 folder. CUT AND PASTE (do not copy!) the N001_Suburb004.package file (this is the default Bluewater Village we just made), and the N001_Suburb004.png file (the associated neighborhood picture) into your Uber-Megahood\Finished folder.


Part 7 - Add Strangetown as a Sub-Hood

Now comes the interesting (and somewhat more complicated part). What we're going to do is trick the game into thinking that Strangetown is actually the default Bluewater Village sub-hood template so we can add it as a sub-hood.

You should have already made a backup of your original Bluewater Village template under Program Files in Part 1, Step 2. If, for some reason, you didn't do that, go back and do it!

1. Create Shopping District ID Folder: In your Uber-Megahood folder, create a new sub-folder. Call it "ID-Original Shopping District".

2. Open Default Sub-Hood Neighborhood File: Open your Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Open For Business\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\B001 folder - the default location of the Bluewater Village template. Inside is several folders and files. Open the B001_Neighborhood.package in SimPE.

CombiningHoods-02.jpg
3. Extract Default Sub-Hood ID: In SimPE, under the Resource Tree (on the top left), click on the line that says "ID Number (IDNO)(1)" and then right-click on the ID Number line under the Resource List (on the top right). On the right-click menu, choose Extract. Extract the file with its default filename to your Uber-Megahood\ID-Original Shopping District folder. This is the ID Number that the game recognizes as ID for the default shopping district, so we can use it to trick the game into thinking that another neighborhood is actually the default shopping district. File-Close in SimPE to close the file, or just close SimPE.

4. Clear Default Sub-Hood Folder: Open the default shopping district template folder, Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Open For Business\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\B001. Delete everything inside it.

5. Copy Strangetown Neighborhood Files: In a separate folder window, open the Uber-Megahood\N002 folder which you copied there in Part 3, Step 2. Copy and paste the entire contents of the N002 folder to the now-empty B001 folder.

6. Bulk Rename: Select all the files you just pasted into the B001 folder. Right-click on the selected files and choose "Bulk Rename Here". This is an option you'll get when you install Bulk Renamer (as recommended in the "What you will need" section at the very beginning). If you don't get this option, go back and download and install Bulk Renamer.

CombiningHoods-04.jpg
7. Rename Neighborhood Files: When Bulk Renamer has loaded, in the list of options in the lower half, look at the second box on the top row, labeled "Repl. (3)". In the box labeled "Replace" type "N002". In the box labeled "With" type "B001". This will change all files that start with N002 to start with B001 instead.

Down at the very bottom, make sure "Subfolders" is checked! Then, CTRL-A to select all of the files listed.

When you've got it set up properly, click the "Rename" button at the bottom right of Bulk Renamer.

You'll get a warning box saying files will be renamed. Click OK to continue. You'll get a second box saying that the rename operation is complete. It should say around 200 items were processed. Close Bulk Renamer.

8. Fix ID Number: Open the B001_Neighborhood.package from the B001 folder in SimPE. This is the old N002_Neighborhood.package file that you just copied there and then renamed. We need to fix its ID number so the game thinks it's the default shopping district.

Select the ID Number in the B001_Neighborhood.package file like you did in Part 7, Step 3. Right-click on the file and instead of choosing Extract, this time choose Replace. When the Replace dialog pops up, navigate to your Uber-Megahood\ID-Original Shopping District folder and select the .simpe file inside and click Open. When you get a popup saying "Resource Changed" click Yes. File-Save to save file with the edited ID Number. The game should now think that Strangetown is actually the default shopping district, Bluewater Village. File-Close to close the open file, or just close SimPE.

9. Load Base Neighborhood: Run the game and load Pleasantview.

CombiningHoods-05.jpg
10. Attach Strangetown as a Sub-Hood: Add a default shopping district. Normally this would be Bluewater Village, and you'll see when you bring up the box to add the shopping district, it'll still say Bluewater Village, but it will have the Strangetown picture and description. Go ahead and add it, and you'll see the next screen says "Creating Strangetown". When it's done, you can bring up the shopping district chooser, and you'll see that it's properly labeled as Strangetown.

11. Exit the game.

12. Rename and Remove Attached Strangetown: Open the My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods\N001 folder. You should see a new N001_Suburb004.package and N001_Suburb004.png Rename both these files from 004 to 005. Then cut and paste (don't copy!) them to the Uber-Megahood\Finished folder.


Part 8 - Add Veronaville as a Sub-Hood

Now we can add the next one as a sub-hood. The steps are pretty much the same as above, just with Veronaville instead of Strangetown, so I'm only explaining briefly since you just did this.

1. Clear Default Sub-Hood Folder: Delete the contents of the Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Open For Business\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\B001 folder.

2. Copy Veronaville Neighborhood Files: Copy the contents of the Uber-Megahood\N003 folder into the now-empty B001 folder.

3. Rename Neighborhood Files: Select all the files and folders in the B001 folder and choose Bulk Rename Here. When Bulk Renamer comes up, type "N003" in the "Replace" box and "B001" in the "With" box. Make sure Subfolders is checked. CTRL-A to select all the files showing and click Rename. Click OK on the two boxes that pop up - it should rename about 200 files again. Close Bulk Renamer.

4. Fix ID Number: Open the B001_Neighborhood.package file in SimPE. Replace the ID Number with the one from your Uber-Megahood\ID-Original Shopping District folder. Click Yes to the Resource Changed popup, and File - Save to save the file. File-Close or Close SimPE to close the open file.

5. Load Base Neighborhood: Load the game, and load Pleasantview.

6. Attach Veronaville as a Sub-Hood: Attach a default shopping district. It will still say Bluewater Village, but will have the Veronaville picture and description. When it creates it, it should say "Creating Veronaville". Verify that it is properly attached, and labeled as Veronaville.

7. Exit the game.

8. Rename and Remove Attached Veronaville: Open your My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods\N001 folder. There will be a new N001_Suburb004.package and N001_Suburb004.png file. Rename both of these from 004 to 006. Cut and paste (don't copy!) both of these files to your Uber-Megahood\Finished folder.

Part 9 - Repeat Attaching Remaining 'Hoods

Now, you're just going to repeat step 8 for each of the remaining neighborhoods as you did in Part 8.

Clear the B001 folder, copy the contents of the next neighborhood folder into it, rename the files to B001, replace the ID number to the ID-Original Shopping District one in SimPE, load the game and attach the neighborhood as a default shopping district, verify that it's attached, rename the new Suburb004 files to the next number in sequence, and cut and paste them to the Uber-Megahood\Finished folder.

Example: When finished, my Uber-Megahood\Finished folder has 12 files in it:
  • N001_Suburb004.package
  • N001_Suburb004.png
  • N001_Suburb005.package
  • N001_Suburb005.png
  • N001_Suburb006.package
  • N001_Suburb006.png
  • N001_Suburb007.package
  • N001_Suburb008.package
  • N001_Suburb008.png
  • N001_Suburb009.package
  • N001_Suburb009.png

Part 10 - Replace Template

Now that we're done with fooling the game into thinking that other neighborhoods are the default shopping district template, let's put back the original copy from the backup we made.

1. Clear Default Sub-Hood Folder: Delete the contents of the Program Files\EA GAMES\The Sims 2 Open For Business\TSData\Res\NeighborhoodTemplate\B001 folder - whatever is in there now is the last neighborhood you attached as a shopping district.

2. Replace with Backup: Open your Program Files\EA GAMES\Neighborhood Backups folder which you created in Part 1. Copy the contents of the B001 folder there into the actual real B001 folder (location listed in the previous step).

Part 11 - Reassemble

Okay. Now what we have are 6 suburb files which, as far as the internal ID Numbers are concerned, are all the same suburb file. What we need to do now is to change all of the internal ID numbers on the .package files in the Uber-Megahood\Finished folder so that they have the proper ID Numbers. That's where the extracted ID numbers we made in Part 4 come in.

1. Open First Sub-Hood File: Open the N001_Suburb004.package file in your Uber-Megahood\Finished folder in SimPE.

2. Replace ID: Select the ID Number resource, right-click, and choose Replace. On the Replace dialog, open your Uber-Megahood\ID-Bluewater Village folder. Select the .simpe file in it and click Open. Say "Yes" to the Resource Changed popup. File - Save to save the edited file.

3. Replace All Other IDs: Repeat the above steps for each of the rest of the suburbs. Open the file, and replace it with the appropriate ID Number. This is where the notes you made of which number (004-009) is associated with which neighborhood can be especially helpful, since you can tell at a glance that Desiderata Valley will be 008, for example.

5. Move Sub-Hoods to Neighborhood Folder: Open the Uber-Megahood\Finished folder and select all of the .package and .png files in it. If there are any .bak files, don't select them. Copy and paste all the .package and .png files back into the My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Neighborhoods\N001 folder. 6. Copy Neighborhood Folder: Make a copy of the whole N001 folder and put it somewhere safe. That way if anything gets saved when you test, you still have the fresh copy.

Part 12 - Test!

Now comes the moment of truth... does it work, or did it asplode? Cross your fingers, toes, eyes, legs, and anything else you can think of...

1. Load the game.

2. Load Your Neighborhood: Load Pleasantview. Make sure that it looks as it should. Try loading a lot to make sure everything's okay there, too.

3. Test Sub-Neighborhoods: Now, load each of the sub-neighborhoods in turn. These may or may not be in the order you actually attached them. Why it goes out of order, I don't know, but it doesn't really matter. Load a lot in each one to make sure that everything works as it should.
Note: If something has gone horribly wrong, then you should know it immediately upon loading Pleasantview or any of the sub-neighborhoods. Lots will be detached from the road, and will be blue or green with no lot picture. If this happens, you have severely screwed up. You can try doing Part 11 again and make sure that your IDs are correct... but if that doesn't work, the best thing to do is start over, as painful as it may sound.

Credit

Tutorial by HystericalParoxysm

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