The Sims™ Technical Library

What this site is

This site is intended to aid in the creation of tools that are compatible with The Sims from Electronic Arts (EA) and distributed for the Macintosh by Aspyr Media (who has ported The Sims, Livin' Large, House Party, Hot Date, and Vacation).

There are quite a number of Windows-based tools; EA even provides a few. However, as this is written, only SimShow has been ported to the Mac (it's available from Aspyr). Many of the very useful tools, such as a game validator like Sims FileCop, are simply not available for the Mac. Similarly, there is no object cloner like Transmorgifier so it is difficult for artistic people who use Macs to exercise their creativity as can be done on Windows.

Our goal is to encourage the development of more tools for the Mac. To this end, we have documentation about the format of game files so that tool writers won't have to research it themselves. The skills for creating a GUI tool are very different from the skills needed for researching file formats; it is our hope that providing this information will aid someone who wants to develop such tools for the Mac.

It's important to understand what this site is not:

In the long run, we would like more and better tools to be created, not just on the Mac, but on all platforms. Thus, when it's possible, we encourage the use of a cross-platform framework when developing tools, so the application can quickly be made available on all platforms. Moreover, the C++ library is intended to be portable so that applications using it can be run on any platform.

The C++ library has code that reads game files and resources whose format is known. It is designed to be extensible and works within the test scaffolding (which usually just prints debugging information about a single entity). However, the proof of a library is when it is actually used in an application, when information about multiple entities will need to be blended. That hasn't happened yet, so the library hasn't been stressed by real usage.

Moreover, the coverage of game formats is spotty. Development has been driven by what was possible to do. In a few cases, there was partial information on other web sites that served as a starting point for our own analysis. In other cases, it has depended on developers who could provide samples where specific changes had been made. For many of the formats, the starting point was a set of objects with known characteristics, a few privately-developed tools to dump the objects in various ways, and a bunch of shell scripts to analyze the dumps.

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Copyright © 2001-2008 Dave Baum and Greg Noel. All rights reserved.
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This page was last modified Saturday, 20-Sep-2003 17:03:22 UTC.
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