Moon Sims
Tech

How to Install New Skins

Caddy says, "OK, you've downloaded some really great-looking skins for The Sims, and they're sitting right there in the folder you downloaded them to. Now What? How do I get these little people into my game?

"Here are some step-by-step instructions for what to do with all those files."

  1. Expand the archive -- unzip, unstuff, or expand the .exe file

    .zip files

    Your web browser might have already run an application to expand the archive for you, but if not, you can do this yourself.

    Most of the stuff on the Sims web sites is delivered in zip archives and have a ".zip" extension on their filenames. There are several popular utilites that will expand zip archives:

    MacOS
    ZipIt
    StuffIt Expander
    Windows
    WinZip
    PKZip
    StuffIt Expander

    .sit files

    Some simsmasters distribute .sit files. Use Stuffit Expander on those archives. StuffIt Expander comes with MacOS and can be downloaded for Windows from the Aladdin web site. (See links in the table above.) It's free.

    .exe files

    Then there are the .exe files. The overwhelming concensus on alt.games.the-sims is that this is a very, very bad idea. It's yet another of those things that people do because they can rather than because it makes sense, yet another mark of a moron.

    The .exe files are really a zip archive with an executable wrapper that forces the files to go ito a certain folder on your computer. If you are running Windows and have installed The Sims exactly where the webmaster thinks you did, then you could just double-click the file and have it install the files into your game, but never, never do this! At the very least, always run the .exe file through your virus-checker first.

    It's much better to just unzip the .exe file using one of those Zip utilities listed in the table above.

    MacOS users can unzip the .exe files with StuffIt Expander or ZipIt. They look like Windows applications, but really they're just zip files with a Windows script wrapped around them. So don't worry, Mac users; you can deal with those .exe files just as if they were .zip files.

    .far files

    Once in a while you will find that a skin has been distributed in a .far file. That's a Maxis-proprietary archive format that groups a bunch of files into one file. There is probably a readme file that came with the .far archive, so be sure to read it; the installation instructions are probably there. If not, and if you are sure it's a skin, just put the .far file into your Skins folder. If it's an object, then put it in your Downloads folder under your folder for The Sims.

    MacOS users, even though the files inside the .far folder might not be compatible, as long as the filename of the .far archive is OK, you're in business. Just put it into the appropriate folder in the game.


  2. Make sure you will know where to look for the new skin
    Note what type of skin it is so that you will know where to look for the skin once you have installed it. It might be one of three skin tones, one of two sexes, and one of two age groups.

    The filename for the .bmp file contains this information. For instance, B007MAFitdrk_pants.bmp:

    B -- B for body or C for head
    007 -- a serial number to match the mesh file
    M -- M for male, F for female
    A -- A for adult, C for child
    fit -- fit, skn for skinny, or fat
    drk -- drk for dark, med for medium, lgt for light
  3. Read the readme file!
    Too many simsmasters just dump the same uninformative readme file into every archive, but don't let them fool you by crying wolf. Once in a while you will come across a readme file that contains valuable information, and sometimes vital information, about how to install the skins you have downloaded. So take a few seconds to open the readme file that comes with each thing you download.

    Each archive on Moon Sims has its own unique readme file that tells you all about what you have downloaded. They also have unique filenames. Create a folder on your computer for these, and save those readme files so you can refer back to them later when you need to. If your game suffers a fatal crash or your computer gets hosed up, this information will help you find what you have in your game, where you got it, and anything special about it.

    Readme files also often include very important copyright and usage instructions.

  4. Check to make sure none of the files will overwrite something you already have
    You will probably end up downloading the same mesh files many times. Usually it's OK to just let the new files overwrite the old ones, but make sure you want to do this before you just dump the files into your Skins folder.

    Some simsmasters distribute meshes that will replace bodies in your game, either out of stupidity or maliciousness, so be careful when installing new skins. Look first. If the new archive has a file with the same name as something you already have, proceed with caution. Don't install the new files until you're sure you want to do this.

  5. If you are using a Macintosh, check for long filenames
    If you see a file that looks like it ought to have a three-letter extension but is cut off at 31 characters, you'll need to take a minute to fix the files before installing them. Otherwise they will crash your game.

    It's easy to spot long filenames -- they won't have a complete three-letter extension on them and usually your computer won't have assigned the correct icon because it didn't know what to do with the file.

    No worries; it's easy to do this. See my essay on how to fix long filenames.

    Now, to make it even easier, take a look at Skin Shrinker, a program by Redfreda that does all this for you.

  6. Put the .bmp, .cmx, and .skn files into the appropriate folder
    The introduction of buyable skins in Hot Date gave us a lot more fun things to play with, but also introduced a host of new problems with the game. Now you have to decide where to put the skins you've downloaded. Here's the general litany:

    • If the filename starts with B or C, it goes into your Skins folder.

    • If the filename starts with L, S, or F, it goes into the expansion pack 3 folder.

    Skins folder

    B = body ("normal" clothes)
    C = head
    Pajamaf = pajama
    Uffit = swimsuit
    Nffit = nude
    Fffit = formal
    H = hand
    Expansion Pack Folder
    (nnn = 3-digit number)

    Lnnn = lingerie (pajamas)
    Snnn = swimsuit
    Fnnn = formal

    Make sure you find all the files that go with the outfit. A skin might include a mesh. If so, there would be 3 files in the set that define the skin, like this:

    300fafitlgt_outfit.bmp
    b300fafit_outfit.cmx
    xksin-b300fafit_otft.skn

    Your character might also come with accessories such as hats, wings, horns, brooms, hair combs, glasses, or whatever. Those usually end up in the Skins folder.

    You probably want to check it out in SimShow first, though. In SimShow you put the .bmp in the Textures folder, and .cmx and .skn files go into the People1 folder.

    It's a Really Good Idea to install only one new skin at a time and check it out in the game. This can be tedious, but it makes it much easier to troubleshoot bad files.

    In any case, you also want to have a little notebook next to your computer where you can keep notes of what skins you installed and when you installed them. Also make a note of where you got the skin, since most web sites don't bother to provide custom readme files for each download. If you run into a glitch, that notebook will make your life much, much easier.

    Special case: Some skins have letters in the filenames where you would expect to find numbers. These DO NOT go into your skins folder. Read the instructions that came with the skins very carefully. The instructions are probably in a 'readme' file.

  7. Start The Sims and find the new character
    In the create-a-character screen, select the sex, age, and skin tone you're looking for. Then scroll through the heads or bodies until you find what you want.

    If your game crashes while you are scrolling through the heads or bodies, then you know you have a bad skin in there that matches the skin tone, sex, and age you had selected at the time. At that point you will be very happy that you have your little notebook where you have written down what skins you installed recently.

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