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Around a month ago, the owners of the longstanding legacy server freeso.ml and I decided to collaboratively set up a test server for people to play in, which would inevitably be wiped as game breaking economy and skilling bugs were worked out. This was purely so people could play the game in its current, mostly working state, rather than waiting for me to deal with my RL business before they could play at all. Our hosts and moderators have proven an absolute blessing in that I’ve been able to put the right amount of time into everything, with them handling support and keeping the server alive.

The server was advertised on the discord and partially the forums, so that the most dedicated users could have a chance at playing first. These aren’t our only users though – we’ve received a lot of attention from various streamers over the past few weeks, which has set off a few communities, top 100 lot competition. At max, we’ve sustained 350 concurrent players in around 60 lots, on one server box. There are just over 2000 lots on the map, and 11,521 avatars in existence. Cumulatively, sims have §75,528,319 in the bank, and have bought §92,393,467 worth of objects (191,956 objects)! Here’s some screenshots of a few that weren’t possible in TSO, from users who’ve put a lot of work in over the past month:

Thanks to this load, I was able to track down a ton of issues regarding lots being stuck open (infinite loops and a bad deadlock in the core vm command processor), various performance issues, and we were able to identify that using MariaDB instead of the official MySQL server greatly improves performance due to the way we are using the database. TSOMania has been keeping track of all the client changes:
http://www.tsomania.net/

Though the servers are indeed up, and I am occasionally submitting changes, I will not be able to devote myself to programming any large scale features, performance improvements or general enhancements until my Masters project is finished. The game is purely up right now just to give you a chance to play it as-is. However, that doesn’t mean there are no plans for the future!

For now, the focus is on bug fixes and stability. Here are the feature plans for the future – at when I have more time:

  • Nightclub Jobs – these are driven by complex plugins which need to be fully reimplemented from scratch. Reversing how the interactions with the objects has already begun, but the gameplay itself will likely have to be custom designed.
  • Friendship Web – Due to the complexity and weird design of the original system, it’s likely this will take an entirely different form in FreeSO. For example, it might make more sense to be able to perform search queries into your relationships. eg. users who are almost friends, almost enemies, almost max, almost min.
  • Terrain Tools – Yes, it is a priority to support what TSO didn’t – fully featured terrain tools like The Sims 1 had. Only – we are also able to incorporate improvements from other games, such as The Sims 2, where floor tiles could be placed on uneven terrain.
  • Roommate Protocol Improvements – The roommate protocol has remained largely unfinished, due to the amount of time that needs to be put in to get the last few features up to scratch. The main blocker is the issue of deleting lots, or moving a sim out of a lot when the lot is offline. This is complicated because it needs to open the lot for the express purpose of moving objects out of it to user’s inventories, and other issues. Fixing this would also allow users to “Retire Sim”.
  • Sandbox Mode – To both develop the game and allow users to develop custom content, they need some way of manipulating a VM where their client acts as the server as well, so they have full control over the game state. This was possible in legacy, but was left behind with the move to the new networking system. Bringing this back would also let people develop custom gamemodes or more interesting sandbox servers where there are no limits.
  • Inbox – The ingame inbox has been largely forgotton about, as it is not necessary to gameplay. It is useful, though, to have some ingame way of messaging other players that are offline, and keeping track of long term events such as roommate move-in or move-outs.
  • More Plugins – Objects like the Casino Slots, Maze and Band job objects, Draw-A-Card object and Timer object require full reimplementation of their custom UIs and logic. These will be worked on in time, though if you are a programmer these are the ideal place to start!
  • Advanced Lighting – In the vein of The Sims 2, it is possible to bake complex light maps for each floor that allow lighting more complex than we currently have. Specifically, outdoor direct falloff lights, wall shadows, indoor direct falloff lights and perhaps even some rudimentary object shadows. Ensuring the performance of such features will be tricky, but it is also entirely possible to manage on modern hardware.
  • Custom Jobs and Custom Content – To make FSO truly better than TSO ever was, we need a long term way of letting our community improve the game, through new functional objects or new job lots. Already there are two plans for new jobs, which aim to break the boundaries of what was possible in TSO with some new gameplay prospects better fitted to The Sims.

Note: the server will not be wiped for a long time – not until these things and some additional backend work is flattened out.

I hope you’re all enjoying the time so far, and I hope you also enjoy what we might have in store in future!

Rhys.