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Organizing Custom Content
This guide is meant to show how one can organize their custom content. It is STRONGLY advised you choose a method for organizing your custom content and stick to it religiously as you download. It makes finding problem files and removing unwanted content SO much easier.
Installing Custom Content
This guide does not explain how to install custom content and get it working in your game, nor does it explain all the little details about things you need to keep in mind when installing content - it is ONLY about organizing. For all information on installing content and getting it working in your game, see: Game Help:Installing Custom Content.
Methods for Organizing
Here are the different ways you can organize your content to make things easier to find.
Generally Sims 2 content will come with filenames that are not really very descriptive. You can safely rename almost all Sims 2 content, changing the filenames to something that is more descriptive.
The only files you should probably not rename are large multi-part hacks which have multiple files... the names given to the files effect the order they are loaded by the game, which is important. Otherwise, though, you can safely rename 99.99% of content with no problem.
Some content can also be placed in subfolders. Subfolders are folders within folders - a "Floors" subfolder of Downloads would be My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads\Floors. What content can go in subfolders depends on what expansions you may or may not have installed.
There does not seem to be a real limit to the amount of sub-sub-subfolders you can do (i.e. My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads\Paintings\Base Game\The Lady on Red\) besides limits that may be imposed by your hard drive's file system.
If you have an NTFS file system, you are limited to no more than 255 characters for the full path and filename of a file. You likely never hit this limit unless you are insanely anal about organizing.
Original and University
If you only have The Sims 2 (original) or the University expansion, you are somewhat more limited than otherwise in subfoldering content.
The following items CAN be placed in subfolders under Downloads:
- Object Meshes
- Object Recolours
- Hacked Objects
- Custom Careers
- Body Shop Meshes (Hair, clothing, and accessories meshes)
The following items CANNOT be placed in subfolders under Downloads:This non-subfolderable content (with the exception of Collections) can, however, be placed in the My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\SavedSims folder instead of the Downloads folder. They cannot be placed in subfolders under SavedSims, but by placing sim-related content in SavedSims (and renaming the files) you can keep yourself fairly well organized... even if you can't put those items in folders.
- Glasses/Accessories Recolours
- Beards and stubble
- Hair Recolours
- Clothing Recolours
- Collections (within the My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Collections folder)
Nightlife and Later
If you have Nightlife or later expansion packs (Open for Business, Pets, Seasons, etc.) you have much, much more freedom in subfoldering your content. In short, you do not have the limitations listed above, and can subfolder just about everything however you like.
Certain hacks may misbehave if placed in subfolders. Place them in the main Downloads folder if they don't work in the subfolders.
Collections (within the My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Collections folder) cannot be placed in subfolders.
Suggested Subfoldering Methods
Exactly what folders you create for yourself under Downloads is up to you, and a lot of it depends on how you play, and what you download. You can also combine some of these methods, too.
- Each creator or site gets their own folder. Good if you have just a few creators you tend to stick to.
- Content is sorted into folders based on its type - all floors together, all makeup together, etc... You may wish main folders for Build, Buy, Body Shop, Hacks, and Defaults.
By download date:
- Folders are created based on date you download and install the content. Good if you tend to keep getting custom content conflicts and need to be able to remove most recently installed content often.
While you REALLY should try to get organized to begin with and stay organized, at one point we've all been faced with a big pile of content in the Downloads folder, with no idea what's what. What then?
The Quick Way
The absolute quickest way to organize all that custom content is to DELETE IT! If there are a couple really wonderful items that you cannot live without or couldn't get again, you can go in and find those to save, and then get rid of the rest! Especially if you have a lot, it's probably quicker, easier, and better to just delete the lot of it. Then you can start over, clean and fresh and ready to stay organized.
The Long Boring Way
If you just cannot stand to delete everything, or most of everything, then you're facing the long, hard, boring road of sorting through all your crap.
You can use Delphy's Download Organiser to identify what content is what, what recolours work for which meshes, orphan recolours and meshes (meshes you don't have a recolour for, or recolours you don't have meshes for) and delete unwanted content. SimPE's Scan Folders function can also be helpful in helping identify what content is what so you can move it where you want it. Clean Installer will show a preview image of textures used in content so you can see how things look outside of the game to delete them.
You can also delete content from within the game using the small trash can icon which will appear for custom content. When you delete content in the game, it removes it immediately from your computer, without sending it to your recycle bin.
If you find you cannot delete object recolours, see: Game Help:Cannot Delete Object Recolours.
When you're organizing, delete wildly! Get rid of everything you don't absolutely love. The number one contributor to long load times is sheer volume of custom content! Here's some tips:
- Get rid of duplicates - Not only true duplicate files (which you can do using Delphy's Download Organiser or Clean Installer but also duplicate types - you don't need five black versions of the same couch, or fifteen plain white tee shirts for men. Pick the best one and delete the rest.
- Get rid of stuff you don't have meshes for - If you don't have them now, you probably aren't going to remember to go get them. Delete the recolours - any heads showing Maxis hair (or a blank head or bunny head) instead of custom hair, any clothing that looks like Maxis, etc., can be deleted outright. You can also use Delphy's Download Organiser to scan for meshes you don't have recolours for, and for orphan object stuffs.
- Be ruthless with quality - If there are imperfections, crunchy textures, seams don't match up, bump maps are wrong, delete it! There's too much good content to put up with badly-made stuff!
- Get rid of stuff you won't use - You probably have a style you tend to use - if you don't ever build modern houses, get rid of those 50 plain black and white vases. If you don't play victorian sims, you don't need 30 bustle dresses. If you haven't used it in the past few times you've played, delete it!
- Delete any ugly premade sims - In Create-a-Sim, go through each age and gender and delete any of the custom premade sims that you don't love. Any content you downloaded with them won't be deleted along with the sim, so you'll have to clean that out separately. Sadly, you can't delete the Maxis sims.
Thanks to Loverat for the original version of this FAQ, and Frumph for his tips on cleaning out your content.
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