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Original Poster
#1 Old 2nd May 2013 at 9:57 PM
Default Sim Retriever
marka93 just gave me an idea for a small utility which might help people to retrieve their sims from a neighborhood which is so corrupted that it cannot be opened in SimPE.

Here's what the utility would do:
- Scan a Characters folder for all sims.
- Create a new neighborhood package and add a Sim Description record for every Sim ID found.

An initial attempt worked fine. I added a Sim Description to a neighborhood and then set the SimID to the ID found in an arbitrary user file copied from another neighborhood. I was able to retrieve that sim and then use SimPE Sim Surgery to extract him, so that he would appear in BodyShop / CAS.

The same basic technique might also work to help people to retrieve their lots (although that's already a lot easier than retrieving sims).

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Original Poster
#2 Old 4th May 2013 at 4:06 AM

This is turning out to be harder than I expected. NOT because the logic is hard, but because the SimPE DLLs are fighting me every step of the way. Once they grab hold of a file, they just don't want to let go. So, I'm trying various ways to gain access to the file once I've decided that the neighborhood is corrupted and I need to use a new empty neighborhood. Sigh.

I'm still holding out hope that I can finish this off in a couple of days and have something ready for testing by early next week.
Mad Poster
#3 Old 4th May 2013 at 5:01 AM
Hopefully you can figure it out. I'll try to remember to keep an eye on this thread to see if you've gotten to the point where you need testers, but if I forget do remind me via a PM if you don't mind =)

Oh and, in case you saw my post elsewhere about computer going boom, I still have my laptop that I can install game on to help test this. I don't like it for playing the game for real, but for testing it should suffice =)
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Original Poster
#4 Old 4th May 2013 at 7:10 PM
If worse comes to worse, I'll skip the SimPE DLLs and use an alternate method to gaining access to the uncompressed records. The project isn't in jeopardy, it's just going to take longer than I was hoping.

I hope that all of your problems were because of a flakey computer. You've had us all stumped.

I'd really appreciate your help. I'll let you know when it's available (after doing some testing myself).
Mad Poster
#5 Old 5th May 2013 at 7:24 AM
Sorry to hear it's more complicated than you first thought. Tends to happen with computers, I guess Now that I've ventured in here I'll have to see if there is anything else I can contribute to/help test. It's fun being able to help someone out that does things you and many others out there can use to make your game more enjoyable.

It feels weird to say it, but I hope you are right. Hardware problems are easy to fix, mysterious nonsensical issues are not =P
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#6 Old 5th May 2013 at 5:34 PM Last edited by Mootilda : 6th May 2013 at 2:25 AM.
Status report:

Much better progress yesterday. I created a kludge to work around the SimPE bug. I now have a working program which leaves temporary files lying around, but only when the neighborhood package is corrupt. Next step is to try a new idea which should remove the need for the temporary files. If that doesn't work, I'll have to replace the kludge with lower-level data access, so that I can skip the SimPE DLLs completely for that particular function.
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#7 Old 6th May 2013 at 12:11 AM Last edited by Mootilda : 25th May 2013 at 6:22 PM.
Default Test Version 0.1 now available (testers wanted)
Released. See my profile.

This is a test version of this program.

Testers wanted.

This program is a last-chance effort to allow people to retrieve sims from an unreadable neighborhood. If your neighborhood is working fine, there is no need to use this program.

The Sim Retriever will examine your Characters folder and add a Sim Description to your neighborhood for each missing sim that it finds. This will allow you to use Sim Surgery in SimPE to extract your sim's appearance and use that appearance to clone your sim properly.

The Sim Retriever should work for any game configuration, including just the base game. If you decide to test this, please let me know which EPs and SPs you have installed.

Please do not download unless you intend to:
- backup your save game first. I will not be responsible for corrupted neighborhoods.
- Be prepared to have your neighborhood corrupted and to restore from your backup.
- Provide feedback.

How to use:
1) backup your save game.

2) Run the SimRetriever

3) Select the neighborhood that you want to retrieve.

3.A) You can use the Browse button to find a neighborhood package anywhere on your hard drive. The neighborhood must have a Characters folder which contains valid user packages.

3.B) If your neighborhood no longer has a neighborhood package, you can select any file in your neighborhood folder. For example, you can select the neighborhood PNG, or create a text file and give it the name of the neighborhood package.

4) If your neighborhood package appears to be OK, but SimPE has problems opening your neighborhood, then you can ask the SimRetriever to generate a temporary neighborhood and add the sims to that neighborhood instead. There is no harm in selecting this option, even if you have no problems opening your neighborhood in SimPE.

5) When you click on the Finish button, the SimRetriever will add sims to your neighborhood and then display a list of all sims added. *

6) Your original neighborhood package will be renamed to <original name>_<number>.bkp.

7) Open your neighborhood using SimPE and use Sim Surgery to extract your retrieved sims.

At a later time, you can clone the packages in BodyShop to clean them, then delete the original packages. Here is a tutorial from Pixel Trade on how to do this step:

Please note that you do not have to do the final step in Pixel Trade's tutorial (Package Sim to File) unless you want to share your sim. If you are just trying to re-create your own neighborhood, you can skip that step. Remove the original unclean package and use the cloned package to recreate your sim in CAS.

8) Once you have finished using Sim Surgery, restore from your backup.

* At this time, all sims will be added as male toddlers. This will not effect your ability to use SimSurgery on your female sims or sims of any other age.

It should be possible to get this information from the Age, Gender, and Species fields in the AgeData record in the user file, but I'm not sure that it's worth the effort unless people are looking for a way to add these sims to their neighborhoods permanently.

This program might be able to be used as a quick and dirty way to add sims to your hood, but it is safer to extract via SimPE, clone via BodyShop, and then recreate in CAS. If you decide to keep these sims, you are on your own; this has not been tested.

What do I want to know?

The main thing that I want to know is: did it work? Were you able to gain access to sims that were otherwise unavailable to you?

Other questions:
- Did the program work as expected? If not, what happened and what were you expecting?
- Did you have any problems? Please give as much detail as you can.
- Which EPs and SPs were you using?
- Were the instructions clear and easy to follow?

Other comments and suggestions are welcome.
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Original Poster
#8 Old 6th May 2013 at 12:58 AM
Name suggestions from Quatchi:
- Search and Rescue
- Lifeboat
- Coast Guard
- Sim Overboard
- Saint Bernard
Test Subject
#9 Old 6th May 2013 at 1:04 AM
Originally Posted by Mootilda
Name suggestions from Quatchi:
- Search and Rescue
- Lifeboat
- Coast Guard
- Sim Overboard !
- Saint Bernard

I'm imagining that under the hood it works somethng like this ?
Site Helper
Original Poster
#10 Old 6th May 2013 at 1:09 AM
That's exactly what it does! Martinis... yum!
Test Subject
#11 Old 6th May 2013 at 9:14 AM
Thanks for the sim retriever, but I'm a bit stuck on it. I've had a new temporary neighborhood been made, I've opened SimPE and it has all the list of characters. Where do I extract the characters to?
And in my neighbohood folder in my documents/eagames, it has the folders E001 and N001, which one am I now using?
Mad Poster
#12 Old 6th May 2013 at 9:34 AM
Great =) I'll get to installing Sims on this laptop when I get back from work tonight. Is base game enough or should I install more than that?

To test this properly I guess one needs to quickly corrupt a hood, any preferences on how one should do that to get a good test run? I guess deleting a bunch of Sims and getting rid of gravestones ought to be a good idea here.
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Original Poster
#13 Old 6th May 2013 at 5:08 PM Last edited by Mootilda : 6th May 2013 at 5:33 PM.
alisonfan: Sims are extracted into your SavedSims folder using Sim Surgery in SimPE. When sims are extracted in this manner, they can carry some of the information from their original neighborhood. It's a good idea to clean that extra stuff out as the next step. Here is an article which explains the entire process with pictures:

After following these instructions, you'll have a clean sim template which can be used in CAS to recreate your sim.

Don't you remember which neighborhood you chose when you ran the SimRetriever? That's the one. If you really can't remember, look in your neighborhoods folders (E001 and N001). One of them is likely to have a file named <hood prefix>_neighbohrood_1.bkp (unless your original neighborhood was completely missing). That's the one that you ran the SimRetriever on.

gummilutt: The SimRetriever should work for all EPs and SPs, including just the base game. At this time, it has only been tested with a base-game only neighborhood and with an all EPs and SPs (except the Store Edition) game. I'll be doing further testing, but would appreciate knowing which configurations people are testing.

I was hoping that you had kept one of your corrupted neighborhoods and could test with a real-life corrupted neighborhood. I corrupted my neighborhood by replacing the neighborhood package with the PNG. I also tested by deleting my neighborhood package, and by adding arbitrary user files from other neighborhoods to a valid neighborhood, as well as just running it on a valid neighborhood.

I've added this information to the download post. Thank you both for helping me to test this program.
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Original Poster
#14 Old 6th May 2013 at 7:33 PM
Default ToDo List
To Do:

Here's my current to-do list. Feel free to comment on these ideas, or make suggestions of your own.

Bug Fixes:

New Features:

Create a valid neighborhood:
At this time, the neighborhood created by the SimRetriever is a temporary neighborhood meant to give people access to sims who are otherwise unavailable. However, it might be possible to use this generated neighborhood as a basis for people's hood recreations. This is a major undertaking, but here are some things that would make the generated neighborhood more useful:

- Get more information from the user file and add that information to the Sim Description. For example: Species, Gender, Age.
- Can we generate the proper SDNA records?
- Display a list of sims found and allow the user to select which ones they want added to the neighborhood.
- Might want to rethink the Family ID.
Mad Poster
#15 Old 6th May 2013 at 11:34 PM Last edited by gummilutt : 7th May 2013 at 1:38 AM.
I do have my corrupt hoods on my desktop HD, but that is the pc that went boom so that testing would have to wait until I get it fixed. My corrupted hoods were never unreadable though, I could use SimSurgery on them. That's why I figured I should ultra-corrupt a hood, since you say it is mainly for those who can't use SimSurgery. But I'll be sure to try it on those when I get them back.

Should I wait until then, or would intentionally corrupted hood be helpful as well?

@Down: Alright =) I'll get on it as soon as I can. I remembered that I (actually EA, not me xD) screwed up Sims on this PC trying to test BG+FT for my mod, and I'll need to mess with registry and stuff to get it uninstalled since it got borked right away. I'll let you know when I got to doing testing =)
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Original Poster
#16 Old 7th May 2013 at 12:52 AM
Any testing that you want to do would be helpful.
Mad Poster
#17 Old 8th May 2013 at 9:05 PM
A bit of an update. Despite early positive signs, it turns out that it is my HD that has gone boom. Everything is gone, with little hope of recovery. That means pretty much two years of Sims is down the drain. I'm kind of depressed atm, so I don't know how much I can look at Sims without it getting overwhelming. I'll try to get over myself and help out as I've promised, but I figure better be honest and state it might not get done any time soon.

I've cleared registry and all that, so laptop is ready to have Sims installed, but I have a feeling I'll be busy trying to set up my desktop again with my new HD, and trying to hunt down a way to recover anything at all from the old one. I'm sorry. I'll try, but no promises
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Original Poster
#18 Old 8th May 2013 at 9:55 PM
That's fine. I really understand how you feel, and it's OK if you just don't feel up to testing this.
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