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Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#1 Old 20th Feb 2012 at 3:04 PM Last edited by armiel : 21st Feb 2012 at 7:50 AM.
Default Custom Distant Terrains: Would you like to make one too? Research and info here

I was pestered into trying to make a fully custom distant terrain by baka and kiwi_tea, so I took a little try, and found out it's actually ridiculously easy to make (a crappy) one.

I'm making this thread so we all could discuss about making custom Distant terrains, share our moments of success and failure, and most importantly, so that we would one day have a wide variation of DTs to choose from when we build our worlds.

I've attached a few pics to this post, one in CAW, one in EIG, and one in game. You can see them at the bottom of the post.

If you wanna read my original blabber, just read on, but I have made the proper tutorial on the next post

How I made it?
First I cloned the Bridgeport distant terrain in S3OC, renumbering so that it doesn't override the original (don't ask why bridgeport, it just was first I chose).
Then I opened my freshly made package in S3PE and exported the mesh (MLOD) to s3asc (you'll need the helpers from simlogical to do this).
Next, I imported the mesh to Milkshape 3D, deleted everything and made my own test version - an island.
Then I exported it to .obj, mapped it, and also saved the map image so I could texture the island.
Then I imported the mapped mesh back to milkshape, used Cat's normal smoother to make it look softer, and then I just exported it over the mesh I had originally exported from the package.
I imported the mesh back to the package, and then exported the texture file.
That I opened in Photoshop, and replaced it with the map picture I had saved earlier. Then I just painted over the pic, little beige to the beaches, green on the other parts.
Saved over the original texture and imported the file back to the package replacing the original.
Then it was time to save the package and give it a try!
So i put the file to my packages folder (my ingame and caw frameworks are linked), then I made a little test world in caw, put in 2 of my island DTs, tested in EIG, and finally exported the world to see if the DTs worked in game too. They did!

I realize this is a very partial tutorial, and to be honest, it's not really a tut, it's just what I did. I'm not here to teach you how to mesh, you can learn all about that in the other forums of the site and the tutorials.

Making a proper full size distant terrain of course requires a lot more effort, but it's good to start with a small island or something, that you can practice on with.

I'm hoping this will raise some discussion, and also inspire everyone who's even the slightest bit interested on making their worlds even more unique, to try and make some DTs yourselves!

Please do not ask meshing related questions here - read the tutorials instead, and if in trouble, make a post in Meshing forum and link that post here instead if you want me to try and help.

I added the pictures of my first 2 attempts in just for funs - they are edits of Bridgeport DT, so not completely made from scratch like my little bright island.
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Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#2 Old 20th Feb 2012 at 3:20 PM Last edited by armiel : 21st Feb 2012 at 8:48 AM.
Tutorial: Making Custom Distant Terrains
This is a tutorial on making a Custom distant terrain for your world. It covers cloning your package, exporting the files you need to modify, importing them back, and putting the file to your CAW and game CC. I will not however teach you how to mesh, but I have linked to some helpful resources on that matter. Have fun!

Skills required:
Ability to read
Basic knowledge on meshing and texturing
Know how to use package files
Little bit of patience

Programs and plugins needed:
For cloning the object and editing the package:
S3OC, S3PE , Helpers for S3PE, ObjTool and mesh import plugins for MS
(You can also use WesHowe's ObjTool for exporting the mesh, but the helpers make life so much easier)
For meshing:
Milkshape 3D, Cat's Normal smoother
(If you choose to use some other meshing program, I can't help, but it should not stop you from making your own DT) I use Cat's normal smoother plugin to easily make the mesh look softer. For you, it is completely optional, and what you do when meshing is all up to you.
For mapping:
UVmapper, Lithunwrap
(I use these both, you don't need both if you don't feel like it, and can also use any other mapping program)
For texturing:
Any graphics editor that can do dds files (has the needed plugins available for it), I used Photoshop, but Paint.Net , Gimp etc. work just as well.

Cloning the Distant terrain and exporting the needed resources:
There are currently 6 EP distant terrains you can clone. The base game one is out of the count, cause for some reason EA have hidden the MODL resource somewhere else than the DT package itself.
The EP ones that are ok for this are:
WA - terrain distant -france, -egypt and -china
AMB - terrain distant south
LN - terrain distant EP3
Pets - terrain distant EP5

I have been working on with the Bridgeport DT, so I took pictures on how you can get your hands on the files you need.

Cloning the DT in S3OC:
Make a folder for the project somewhere easy to find.
Run S3OC, hit on tools - search
Type "distant" to the box provided, and tick at least resource name and object name (they should make sure you'll find what you need). Hit search. S3OC now goes through your game install folders and looks for all the resources containing the name "distant". This take a little while, depending on how many of your games you have set to your games in the S3OC settings.

Select the DT you want to clone (remember, not the base game one!) and hit "clone or fix..."
Next you can change the name and catalog description (the latter does not matter as you will not buy it in game). remember to tick "renumber/rename internally" if it's not already ticked, and also tick "copy english to all languages". Then you can hit start and save the package, preferably to a folder you have made for the project.

Exporting the resources we need to edit:
Then we need to export the files we need to change, from the package. So run S3PE, and find resource called MODL.
Right click on it and select "export to s3asc". When saving the file, make a folder for it on the project folder, cause it will put a couple of files there. You can name the folder MODL to make it easy to know what's in there.

Then, while we're at S3PE already, we can export the image we need to edit too. Bridgeport DT has 3 images, the overlay, the bumpmap, and the light flare. I only edited the overlay on my test, but for a final product you will need to edit the bumpmap too, and maybe get rid of the light effects. It's all up to you and your skills. But let's export the overlay, so we can use our own colors.
If you click on the IMG resources, the preview will show what they are. We're looking for an image that looks like the DT does. When you find the right one, right click on it and select "export" and "to file..."

You now have access to all the files you need to edit to make a new distant terrain. If you wish to fiddle with the files more, change stuff in the other resources and so on, go for it, but this tutorial only covers getting a custom DT to your CAW and game.

Meshing, mapping and texturing the Distant terrain:
Like I have already mentioned (a couple of times really ^^), I am not here to teach you how to mesh or texture your new Distant terrains.

You can find meshing tutorials here and the meshing forum here

Basically you will need to mesh yourself a DT that pleases you, map it nicely, and texture it. The amount of time and effort this will take depends completely on your skills and the complexity of your DT. The little testy island on the first post I made, took me maybe about half an hour, and it was my 3rd DT ever. I do plan on making a full sized DT for my new world in process, and expect it to take weeks to make it good enough for my taste. I'm not slamming these times here to depress you (or me!), am just trying to keep the things realistic

Once you have a new mesh and a texture for it, we can carry on to the next step of this tutorial.

Importing the modified resources back to the package:
Open up your package in S3PE, if it's not already open. Right click on the MODL resource and select "import from s3asc". I think it is important to right click on the correct resource here, I have managed to overwrite wrong resources in the past when using s3asc import. So make sure you right click on the MODL!
Then import back the IMG's you have modified. For those it doesn't matter when you right click, so do it over the empty area for example, and select "import" and "from file...".
Then it's time to save your package and close up S3PE!

Putting the new DT to CAW and game, and testing:
First things first - You will need to have a framework set up for using CC in CAW, and in game too of course! You can find all the needed information here and here.
My framework is linked to my ingame one, but you can do it either way that feels the most convenient for you.
Once your framework is set up, put the package file you have made to the packages folder(s).
Then you can test your new file in CAW. It should be found under the environment objects (or whatever that is called in English CAW, or your localized CAW) with the name you gave to it when cloning. If you did not change the name, searching with "distant" should again pop it up.

That was it I think! I'll modify the tut is something new comes up or if I forgot something essential. Have fun, and make sure you post your new awesome DTs here or the CAW resources forum, so that we can all clap our hands in excitement!

If you have any questions about the steps in this tutorial, go on and ask. For meshing related issues, please post in the tutorials you're using, or the meshing forum (links on the tut).
Tuesday is Soylent Green day!
retired moderator
#3 Old 20th Feb 2012 at 6:32 PM
Lab Assistant
#4 Old 21st Feb 2012 at 6:59 PM
This is fantastic! Now I can make a DT that will be more perfect than the existing ones. I need to brush up on my meshing techniques. I haven't made anything nice the Sims 2. Thanks armiel!!!!


Follow the creation of new worlds, lots and objects at my new blog, UrbanSims!
retired moderator
#5 Old 24th Jun 2012 at 3:28 AM
I'm having an issue, Armiel, with a cloned version of Riverview's DT. The texture will take, but the MODL file doesn't seem to change. I deleted a whole lot of vertices, and it acts like they are still there in CAW and EIG, despite the texture updating.

It's driving me crazy. Any clues?

CAW Wiki - A wiki for CAW users. Feel free to edit.

Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#6 Old 24th Jun 2012 at 5:07 AM
Hey Kiwi,

I was expecting you to post, given that you were talking about this in chat, otherwise I would have missed this post (retired you see). Please poke me at chat when you're in and I'm in too, I need to see pics and talk to you - few word post doesn't really give me the image on what's wrong. You can post the solution/process here if I can help. Or just post the meshing issues in Meshing forum.
Tuesday is Soylent Green day!
retired moderator
#7 Old 1st Jul 2012 at 1:04 PM
@Kiwi and Armiel- Yes, I'd be interested to see your findings in this thread or the meshing forum, too!
Test Subject
#8 Old 7th Aug 2012 at 3:24 AM Last edited by GrayOwl : 7th Aug 2012 at 4:41 PM.
I tackled this today after lurking this thread for a while, trying to gain as much confidence as possible, as I'm new to meshing. Finally, I tried it, and things didn't go as planned, but it's my first try and mistakes are bound to happen, especially when it's me trying to mesh. I use Blender, so I'm still trying to figure out what I'll need to adjust in the tutorial to make it work for me, but that's beside the point. The problem is with the IMG files: the bump map and the overlay. My graphics editor program (paint.net, sometimes gimp) does not read them. Under "Programs and Plugins" it says we would need a program that reads dds files. I have that. I'm assuming Photoshop is the only program that can read IMG files, or is there another way to remedy this? Thanks, and this was a great tutorial by the way. I really appreciate it. I will continue to refer to it for many future distant terrains, if I can manage to make my first. :D
EDIT: I found that renaming the IMG's during export makes my computer read them as files with no specific extension.
Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#9 Old 7th Aug 2012 at 5:27 AM
You can get a dds plugin for both Paint.net and Gimp, although they are a bit clumsy to use.
Test Subject
#10 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 1:06 PM

I hope you can help me :o

I've found your tutorial and loved it. After editing the mesh and img, I imported it to the package and put in to the package-folder of the CAW. Other packages, like the bridge-set are already in Caw availble - but not the edited terrain

I don't found it and don't know, what I did wrong. I checked the export - all seems to be like in your explanation.

Hope you know a trick. I would love the terrain wih only the land of the eiffelturm and the little isle in front of it. The hills I've deleted, but I don't get in Caw

Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#11 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 1:57 PM
Hello heissemietze,

I don't really know why it would not show up if you have followed the tutorial. Did you give it a new name when cloning, or, do you play in some other language than English, and can't now find it cause are searching with wrong words in CAW? (remember we ticked copy English to all languages).

If you want, you can upload the package here and I can take a look at it in S3PE, though to actually test it I'd need to update my CAW, and I'm not sure if I have time for -that- in close future.
Test Subject
#12 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 3:43 PM
Dear armiel,

you're my hero. Normally I work with the german CAW - and there I diddn't find it. But cause of yout tip, I've looked in the "Super Caw", which is in english, and there I've found it!

Thanks for your help!

Greetings, Mietze
Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#13 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 5:24 PM
Glad it was such a simple issue Great that it works!
Test Subject
#14 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 10:27 PM Last edited by heissemietze : 25th Aug 2012 at 11:10 AM.
Hello again *smile*

I hope you don't think I'm stupid *lol* I see the distant in CAW like I want it, but in the game edit-mode, or when I export the world, I don't see ist. There is simply water.^^

I think the problem is the uv-map? I don't know what I edit there, cause the lines are confusing. I hoped the game shows it like caw, cause there aren't errors or anything, when I placed the terrain.
In the UVMapper program I opened the model and add a new uvmap "planar" - then it looks 2d. When I use Box, it's the bird's-eye-view. but I don't know, what I've to change. I look video-guides for meshing, but anyway it looks so easy in the videos - but in real it's only confusing.^^

It's really hart to match for a beginner like me - I was so proud, when I saw the terrain in CAW and shocked, when I testet it in game.

Sorry for annoying you :/
Veteran Finn
retired moderator
Original Poster
#15 Old 25th Aug 2012 at 8:48 AM
You need to put the file on your game Packages folder, too.
Test Subject
#16 Old 25th Aug 2012 at 11:09 AM
o_O Omg, that's so embarrassingly I've testet the half night and didn't find the error.

Thanks - I didn't saw the forest for the trees.

Lab Assistant
#17 Old 6th Dec 2012 at 6:18 PM Last edited by PWN9483 : 6th Dec 2012 at 6:39 PM.
Not and issue

A note on the initial object search.

Using Windows 8, if Object name is selected, S3OC (1208.22.1404.25342) crashes on my machine.
If I only check Resource Name when doing the search S3OC works fine.

Checking both Object and Resource Name works under Win7 though.

Not looking for assistance, just pointing out the workaround.
One horse disagreer of the Apocalypse
#18 Old 6th Dec 2012 at 6:29 PM
Hi you need to upgrade to latest test s3oc. This one seems as stable as the "stable" version and has the search bug fixed

"You can do refraction by raymarching through the depth buffer" (c. Reddeyfish 2017)
Lab Assistant
6th Dec 2012 at 6:40 PM Last edited by PWN9483 : 6th Dec 2012 at 9:03 PM.
This message has been deleted by PWN9483. Reason: info out of date
Test Subject
#19 Old 22nd Jan 2013 at 2:47 PM
This tutorial works like a dream, and it is so easy to follow along :D

However, no matter what I do, I cannot get this option, "export to s3asc"

I use:
Photoshop CS5 Extended S3OC S3PE am I missing a .dll file somewhere?

Any help would be greatly appreciated :D
One horse disagreer of the Apocalypse
#20 Old 22nd Jan 2013 at 3:54 PM
You do need the helper/plugin for S3PE to enable the export to s3asc feature. Get it from http://www.den.simlogical.com/denfo...php?topic=807.0

"You can do refraction by raymarching through the depth buffer" (c. Reddeyfish 2017)
Test Subject
#21 Old 23rd Jan 2013 at 2:23 PM Last edited by annieover : 23rd Jan 2013 at 2:37 PM. Reason: I was wrong
Thank you Inge :D

I am getting an error when running Mesh Helper, "Missing Import/Export on command line"
One horse disagreer of the Apocalypse
#22 Old 23rd Jan 2013 at 3:25 PM
Did you use the .exe installer or the .7z unpack it yourself version? If the latter, you need to take care to set it up properly as a helper in a way that is tailored to your own installation decisions. If you used the .exe installer, in most cases it will get it right. If it hasn't in your case, please could you post in the mesh helper's download thread and we can support you further over there.

"You can do refraction by raymarching through the depth buffer" (c. Reddeyfish 2017)
Test Subject
#23 Old 23rd Jan 2013 at 3:34 PM
I used the .exe installer

I will post in the support threadThank you for your help :D
Test Subject
#24 Old 6th Feb 2014 at 12:31 AM
Hi, I really need some help. I'm trying to edit the Oasis Landing Distant Terrain, I've never meshed before so I'm probably missing something obvious but, I'm trying to import the IMG File into Milkshape. However the file extension is a .dds, and I can't figure out how to get milkshake to open a .dds file.
is going to be a cat when she grows up.
staff: administrator
#25 Old 6th Feb 2014 at 2:29 AM
Originally Posted by Polarbear22
Hi, I really need some help. I'm trying to edit the Oasis Landing Distant Terrain, I've never meshed before so I'm probably missing something obvious but, I'm trying to import the IMG File into Milkshape. However the file extension is a .dds, and I can't figure out how to get milkshake to open a .dds file.

You need to import the distant terrain mesh file before you try to import a .dds file on top of it. Without a mesh, there's nothing for Milkshape to load.
After you get the mesh file into Milkshape, you can import a .dds under the "Materials" tab.

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