Sims 2 and multi-disking

While reinstalling the game from CDs/DVDs the other day, I noticed that I could install the base game and each expansion wherever I wanted, even on different disks. Also it saves its neighborhoods, households and sims to a folder in My Documents. Normally all of these things are stored on C:, but there is no reason to.
I also happened to have this old PC with only a slow internal harddisk. It slows down and even pauses for a while if it has to do too much reading and writing from/to the same disk at the same time. Are you thinking what I am thinking? Probably not, unlike you like me happen to have a USB hub and a handful of USB sticks lying around.
In the end, I only installed the game and its expansions on two different USB drives, and relocated My Documents to a third. There is still the occasional momentary pause in live mode, perhaps half a second, but it is pretty rare. So for now, I guess I'll keep it this way.

Sims 2 amnesia (missing sims, changes, buildings, subhoods, neighborhoods)

TL;DR: I tested, uninstalled and reinstalled the whole game, and the problem was that I saved the My Documents folder to a SSD with ExFAT file system instead of NTFS.

Painstaking detail:
It started shortly after I resumed playing Sims 2 after a longish absence, to test out the new Story Progression mod. (Which is otherwise pretty impressive.) I noticed I started to get error messages about certainly newly created sims, something being out of range. Once I turned off testingcheats, the messages disappeared, but the game ground to a halt. I saved, played another household, saved and returned to the dorm, all was fine.
Next I noticed that bought objects did not stay in the dorm.
Next I noticed that new buildings did not stay in the subhood.
Next I noticed that new subhoods did not stay in the neighborhood.
Finally a new main neighborhood did not stay when I exited the game and reloaded.
This happened again even with all custom contents disabled and moved to the Windows desktop.

Either some file(s) was/were corrupted, or Sims 2 had a steadily growing problem with saving to SSD. What to do?

I moved my Documents/EA Games/Sims 2 folder to my external backup disk, started the game and let it create the standard folder. I exited and started again to check that the standard neighborhoods remained. Then I copied over the terrains folder, created a new neighborhood, empty and without subhoods, and exited. Started again and the custom neighborhood was there. Added Sim State University, premade Downtown, premade Bluewater Village businesshood. Exited. Started again, everything was there. Created empty businesshood in addition to Bluewater. Exited. Started again. New custom subhood was gone. Created new empty custom downtown, tried to play it, game crashed.

Uninstalled Apartment life. (I don't have the Digital Deluxe version, I play from CD.) Started game with Freetime CD. (Remember how awesome Freetime was when we got it? Pepperidge farm remembers.) Created new empty custom shopping hood and empty downtown. Entered them and they didn't crash. Exited and restarted. Not only where the subhoods gone, but the game did the whole "creating pets", "creating weather", "creating pets" etc. Woo. Created the shopping subhood again, exited and restarted. "Creating pets" etc. By the way, all the subhoods that I have created lie as package files on the SSD, so probably not a problem with saving there.

Uninstalled Freetime, Bon Voyage; tested with Seasons. (Remembers when the Seasons expansion made the game better, not worse? Pepperidge farm remembers.) Created custom shopping hood with 1 house, restarted, game remembered. Created custom downtown with 1 cemetery lot, exited, restarted. Cemetery gone but neighborhood remained. Created cemetery again, exited, restarted. Cemetery remained. Reinstalled Bon Voyage after deleting folder entirely. All neighborhoods and houses remained. Created new shopping subhood with house, exited, restarted, new neighborhood was gone from game but not from save folder.

Uninstalled Bon Voyage, made new testing neighborhood with Bluewater + 1 custom shopping subhood with a house. Exited and restarted. Everything is fine. Somehow, installing Bon Voyage from the CD breaks the game, even if I deleted the original Bon Voayage folder first.
And now, actually stopping for the night! Really. Probably.

Uninstalled all expansion pack and the base game. Deleted folders. Reinstalled to a different location. Now the crashing and disappearing subhoods appear already in Seasons! But I already checked that it was not the SSD, since the files were there. Or...? Time to do some advanced Windows wizardry.
mklink /j "C:\Users\Itlandm\My Documents\EA Games\Sims 2" "G:\Sims 2"
where G: is an external hard disk, not SSD. Now whenever Sims 2 looks in the EA Games folder for the Sims 2 savegames, Windows sends it off to the external hard disk. Because it can! In the unforgettable lyrics of "Still alive"(Portal ending song): "Aperture Science - We do what we must, because we can!"

Created neighborhood Testingford, added Bluewater Village and Testing Hills with 1 house. Exited. Reloaded. Everything was where I put it. Now for the real challenge. Can we defeat the boss monster, Bon Voyage? (Doing various household chores while expansion pack installs from CD.) And there it is: Testing Hills, even the house has been preserved. Coincidence? I think not, but who knows until we have installed Sims 2: Freetime.
OK, it is 1 in the night, Freetime is up and running, and the house in Testing Hills is still there. Rejoice with me, you my friends! Now there is only one expansion pack left.

Apartment life tested OK. Premade lots tested OK. Custom content tested OK. Game is running better than ever, but of course I still have ideas to optimize it. Not tonight though. Probably not. It's 2AM for the second time in a row with this project.

Meanwhile in Sims 2...

"Mutant virus curfew! All shops and community lots are closed for the year. No parties are allowed."
That's a direct quote from the "Near Future Disaster Jar" page for my Micropolis Sims 2 Prosperity challenge. Little did I know that this would actually happen in the real-world Near Future. Micropolis is still my best work, no doubt about it. Unfortunately my surviving backup is from quite a bit before the last pages. And of course Sims 2 is a thing of the past now... Or rather it was, until a few weeks ago.

It is actually counterproductive for Prosperity Challenges, but Sims 2 has a Story Progression now, in the tradition of NRAAS and MCCC. Lazy Duchess has made a mod, currently in open beta but working remarkably well. It has less features (for now) but covers all the essentials and then some. Here's the Tumblr page inviting to it: and here is a demonstration of it by the seasoned Sims 2 player Pleasant Sims on YouTube:

So I returned to Sims 2, installed the mod, and loaded a new neighborhood with only 1 playable sim in it. I created a University and created two new students, one to play myself and one for the mod to play. One thing I noticed was that townie teens are automatically sent to college, but they were all sent to the dorm where I was not playing at the time. So the mod thoughtfully takes care of them by itself.

There is a bug I don't remember from before, although I won't swear it is not caused by another mod. If I save the dorm while playing, then when I exit to the neighborhood, the game is not saved. That includes the temporary saves I made while playing. So it is better to save by exiting and answering yes to saving then. On the bright side, if my dorm freezes (which it occasionally did before the mod too) I can just exit and save, play another household a few minutes, and when I come back the mod performs a soft reset on playable sims which gets the game going again. So that was an unexpected benefit.
UPDATE: I seem to have a problem with saving in a dorm I made myself some years ago, while standard dorms work fine.

And it was such a great dorm too! The students certainly seemed to love it.

Maybe one day I will find out how to fix this, and the mod itself is in constant improvement and may fix it on its own. But for now, I just enjoy the nostalgia of playing Sims 2 again. Listening to the old melodies and remembering scenes from my happy days as an angel in Micropolis makes me just a little misty-eyed. But these are new times. Sims 2.0, so to speak. We got software angels now, helping our sims find jobs and make babies.
  • Current Music
    Sims 2 College Rock
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Dormitory diversity and unexpected chances

No, she is not on fire. That's Flamebert the Phoenix familiar, he is always on fire. ("Burning curiosity" he calls it.) Nope, the smokey effect is from a Dark Magic spells. Unlike her mother, who only ever uses White Magic, Liisa discovered as a teen that she could use Dark Magic - more exactly the Destruction branch - to suppress sadness, anger or discomfort. She doesn't use any of the Dark spells to cause problems for others, just to help herself, so surely this makes the world a better place overall? In this case, she pulled a muscle while training, and her mother is not around to fix her up. So a little bit of Darkness it is. She'll turn it off when the pain is gone.
(Don't try this at home, kids. This is a work of fiction.)

And now for something presumably different:
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Well, that was an unexpected development! But the next entry, if any, should give us a glimpse into career I am not familiar with.

Teenhood's end

A rare case of Sims 4 reflecting 2020: Social distancing, health-consciousness and people being lost in their smartphones.
Luckily sorcerers can dispell disease as well. Would have been extremely useful to have in Real Life, but then again: If we had sorcery in Real Life we would probably not be sitting here playing The Sims...

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Next time, if any: College or Armageddon? Probably college.

Teens, minions and magic naps

As a birthday gift from her mom, Liisa got her own familiar, a phoenix. (When you look for magic tomes in the Realm library, there is a chance of finding a familiar-orb instead. But don't tell Liisa.) Kari seems a bit worried about her daughter. Actually she should be less worried with a familiar around, because they can absorb fatal blows like when a spellcaster draws too much magic and catches fire. Supposedly they can also absorb fatal shocks from repairing equipment etc, but I have never tried that.

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I'll try to get Liisa to grow up next time, if any. Should she grow a bit more hair or do you like to see her elf ears?

What color will teen Liisa be?

Approaching puberty, Liisa has discovered her first spell and challenged her mom to a friendly duel. But she is much too early, and the battle is short. Victory goes to the elder Scrolls! (Yes, I named the family only for that joke. That's just the kind of guy I am.)

In time she should become more powerful than Annika though, not just because she has both of her parents' magic, but also because the Realm bloodlines get stronger with each generation for a while.

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Who will become the main character of this story, if any? Liisa, teen superhero in training, or Kari's buttocks? The only way to find out is to play more.

Another magical day

Kari, of all people, got herself a job. Having healed sims and plants and generally tried making the world a better place, plus being an overall positive person, Kari now has a perfect positive reputation. As a result, an acquaintance called her and offered her a job as a style influencer. They even threw in a brand new computer, a digital sketchbook and a wall board for gathering notes and pictures. And most importantly, she can work from home. Well, sometimes the work requires her to go visit some specific type of business briefly, but mostly she can just write her fashion blog at home and get money and even more fame. Despite occasional doubts about having sold out to The Man, she is mostly fine with it.

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Next time, if any: What color will Liisa be when she grows up? Place your bets!

Some more magic, some more Liisa

Since everyone else can cast spells, Liisa also tries to practice while mom is sleeping. But it seems that unlike all other skills, learning magic is not boosted by tiny living or perfect toddlerhood. Liisa tries for a while, then gives up ... for now.

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I really just wanted to show off the "Become A Sorcerer" mod, which is as good as some smaller game packs. But these characters keep growing on me as I get to know them.

Magic, sorcery and salad

Just walk straight into the glowing portal. Your creator commands you! Well, more like demiurge really. Or at least higher-dimensional guiding spirit. I have a particular task in mind for you that Annika can't do.

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To be continued, if all goes well!