After last night’s flash snowstorm, weather forecasters in Sunrise Crater have been predicting persistent snowfall for the entirety of December, and a large part of January. Unfortunately, this means that residents may be unable to collect their annual christmas trees from the City Hall atop the mountain, and Christmas may be ruined for good. However! The Sunrise Crater government never backs down from a challenge, and has instead delivered all Christmas trees directly to your inboxes, free of charge. These special trees come retrofitted with (refilling???) presents beneath them – 3 of which are sweet treats, and one of which is a special gift for each day… You’ll have to find out for yourself what’s in each box!

Festvities aren’t the only thing we’re bringing to the table this update. Though not much development work has been going on from my side, our community and other developers have been pushing to push the game further to being functionally complete, and even beyond. Here’s a list of all the stuff we have going now, newest first:

Intoducing Motive Overfill

Example of motives with 50% overfill. Motives will stay green while the white bar is present.

Visiting some types of lots will now allow you to fill your motives for a lot longer than other lots. These “overfills” will persist as you move across lots, so are perfect before you run a job, group money, single money or skill. To obtain overfills, go visit a lot from that type and green up in their overfill category. If a lot doesn’t exist for that overfill category, why not make it yourself?

Here’s a list of the tunings we’re demoing this feature with:

  • Service Lot: 50% overfill on hunger, energy, hygiene and bladder.
  • Entertainment Lot: 100% overfill on fun and social.
  • Romance: 100% overfill on social. (pending additional feature)

Note that this is not all we have planned for other lot types. Several additional systems are in the works to make these categories more appealing or have more of a purpose.

Continue reading “Merry Christmas from the FreeSO Team!”

EDIT: The update has been available since last Friday. You can check it out by downloading the latest update from FreeSO servers, then following the instructions later in this post!

Three years ago, any chance of anyone reviving The Sims Online looked very slim. Any existing project seemed to either fall off in activity, be a hoax in the first place, or burn hopeful fans with controversial donations for a server that was never meant to be. Despite all the ruckus, three years ago is when we got the first glimmer of hope that TSO would be back again – a convincing UI recreation of the initial few screens of the game including Create A Sim, with a lot of backend work to load important game content. Developed by Afr0 and ddfczm, this recreation was called Project Dollhouse, and it’s what inspired me to work towards this same goal. Despite exciting developments in SimAntics emulation by me and ddfczm, with ingame footage of TSO objects somewhat working, this community stayed at only a few members – nobody believed anymore in TSO ever returning. Our community slowly grew as I implemented the online sandbox mode and split into FreeSO, and people finally started believing that it was possible. The launch into beta was a spectacular surprise.

Today, we’ve almost done it. It has been a heck of a long journey, and finally people don’t have to believe in something anymore – it’s right here. A fully re-implemented TSO client and server is available for all to use, with source available so it can be developed further by anyone in the future, maybe tens of years from now. The ability to play TSO will never truly disappear, thanks to the efforts of its community.

Recently, I attempted to port The Sims 1 to mobile by myself, something many users never would have believed would work until recently. Unfortunately this was not meant to be, but I demonstrated that it was never impossible, and that it can even be done well by an independent developer.

To keep up with my trend of doing stupid things nobody believes in, I decided to make good on a crazy idea I shared three years ago, and have even mocked on one april fools since it felt so unfeasible at the time. I had an idea that The Sims and The Sims Online could potentially be rendered and playable in 3D, in real time, using mesh reconstruction techniques. Our next update will have an experimental mode showing that this is indeed possible!

I’m guessing your immediate thoughts from seeing our header image is, “how is this even remotely possible? the objects in this game are 2D sprites”. This article will also explain how it wasn’t as impossible as it seemed, and explain how it was achieved.

Continue reading “The Impossible”

In the last news update, I announced an attempt at using the FreeSO engine to bring TS1 to mobile platforms. For the foreseeable future, these efforts have been stopped.

A few months ago we were contacted by EA regarding how the TSO IP should be handled. At that time, you may have noticed a change in logo to avoid the house motif, the addition of multiple disclaimers to our websites, and further insistence on taking no donations for server costs (really, no change). Given even just its relevance to me, The Sims’ IP is clearly something that is worth EA protecting from any potential damage, so I complied with these terms immediately out of respect.

A few days ago, some time after our last blog post, I received further correspondence from EA, regarding my plans to bring TS1 to mobile devices, as well as potentially FreeSO. To protect their IP, they asked that I cease and desist any efforts to bring either of these games to mobile or any other plaforms. While both projects are entirely legal (copyrighted content and references to “The Sims” provided by the user, not the replacement engines themselves), I do not want to step on EA’s toes, and will obviously comply with their requests rather than starting some kind of expensive legal battle.

Seeing it first hand, I could completely understand how damaging a third party releasing a mobile client could be to The Sims brand. The mobile market had never seen a full The Sims game with no micro-transactions, and even though it might be hard to install and transfer the game from a computer (especially on iOS), the disruption could have had a notable impact.

Granted, only a few weeks were spent on the project, but it’s unfortunate that after seeing it work so well, it may never see the public in a complete fashion. I enjoyed working on the project, and it taught me a lot about mobile development with Xamarin & MonoGame, multi-touch interfaces and more about The Sims (and how it differs from TSO).

Video

Despite the fact that I cannot release it, what I created is really worth seeing, and I wouldn’t want people to think I was lying about the whole thing. Therefore, I’ve prepared a video created with the final iOS build I produced, showing all implemented features in action (running on iPhone SE):

You will notice many bugs. You will notice that the game sometimes stutters, especially at three speed. All of these issues are caused by lack of optimisation – with some amount of work the game could run smooth as butter at all times on devices such as the iPhone SE and 6. It’s a great proof of concept for how the FreeSO engine was extensible enough to quickly run TS1’s game objects and logic with a flexibility not possible with the original game engine. I’m personally fine with simply showing such an achievement was possible.

The last version did not have build/buy, the fame system, save games and many other things, so it was far from playable.

Simitone’s fallback purpose

Though I cannot release mobile projects, I can release what I have as an alternative Windows client. This client is currently very useful for examining how TS1 objects work. In the future, it could improve the playability of the game on high resolution monitors.

https://github.com/RHY3756547/Simitone

The Simitone replacement game client has therefore been released on Github for use on Windows Only. This is not open source in the same vein as FreeSO – the Simitone frontend is entirely a personal project, and has all rights reserved… for now. FreeSO is a subproject of Simitone, which all sources and rights are still available for. The FreeSO engine actually contains most of the parts of , as you can see through its hybrid mode.

The Future

I was working on the TS1 port because it was something I enjoyed doing. I quickly became passionate about finding the right ways to handle the UI for the game on mobile devices. While I am alright with this outcome, getting knocked out of working on it has caused me to burn out a little.

The reality is that I cannot keep working on this project forever. Over the past three years, I have hoped that I would eventually be able to pass development onto a community of developers, and then progress to do my own thing. Despite some individual developers implementing crucial game features, (ddfczm long term, and The Architect for some recent object plugins) this community of developers has not materialised. The truth is, finding developers for an open source MMO server is incredibly difficult for a number of obvious factors: we need a ton of experience, a self-driven attitude and dedication to TSO. These things do not seem to overlap very often.

I am currently working on this project while unemployed. While I do enjoy it, neither leeching off of others or starving to death are the best I can do with my life. I wouldn’t take donations for ethical and personal reasons anyways, let alone potential legal issues.

For now, I will be taking a break for a few weeks to figure things out, after I push some fixes for stuck lots, the killer Mina.NET bug and a fix for some error 23s.

Rhys.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on getting The Sims 1 working within our engine, to ready it for a mobile version. This has led to the development and improvement of a feature that was not explored in TSO before: terrain tools.

This enables a whole new level of creative freedom for designing interesting lots which can use the terrain to spice up a lot with multiple buildings, or even enable lots based entirely around a terrain feature such as a mountain, mesa or digsite. I for one would like to see a jam lot in a digsite, so sims can bury their dreams while they make jams just to save some time.

Continue reading “Introducing Terrain Tools (plus TS1 engine support)”

It’s been a long time since our last update, but I’ve finally got some time on my hands to get back into things. We also have a new developer working on object plugins for the game too, which have been gradually been appearing in the game since my last post.

Advanced Lighting

The main improvement in this patch is something I didn’t expect to be completed this early into the process, and I didn’t think it would ever be this beautiful and effective. This patch introduces a completely custom lighting engine, built from the ground up for TSO/TS1.

Even though it is not a necessary feature, it’s something I’ve had on my mind for an incredibly long time. Sims games past 1 typically build a light map to construct smooth falloffs and shadows for light sources, with 3 and 4 actually featuring advanced lighting which models per-light shadows in each room. The goal was to bring these later developments back to TSO, now that we have the graphics hardware to pull it off. Wall shadows are projected from each wall “line” in the light’s room, while object shadows are estimated from the object’s collision bounds (both with smooth falloffs).

Continue reading “May 15th Update: Brighten your Monday!”