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Preparing for the Next Expansion
This guide is all about what you need to do before you get a new expansion pack. Please read it carefully - being ready to install a new expansion is a heck of a lot easier than finding out what's the problem once something goes wrong if you haven't followed this FAQ.
Before Buying a New Expansion
It may be tempting to rush out and get the first copy hot off the shelves, but many people who do so run into problems! First and foremost, you need to make sure that your system can handle it.
Expansion packs often increase the requirements for the game - just because you can run the base game doesn't mean that expansions (and stuff packs) will work properly for you!
First, you need to know your system's specifications. To find out that crucial information, see: Game Help:System Specs.
Then, you need to know the system requirements for the expansion or stuff pack you'll be installing. They are listed here: Game Help:System Requirements. This guide includes both the minimum just to get the game running, and also MTS2's recommended requirements. While it may say "32 mb" for video RAM needed for Seasons, that is -extremely- underpowered and the game will not run well at all with a 32 mb video card! To help sort out the confusion between a computer which will just barely run the game and a computer which will run the game decently, we have included our recommendations.
You MUST have at least the minimum system requirements (double is recommended for playability) to run the game! If your system is not up to the task, especially if you don't have a graphics card that is listed as supported, you should not purchase the expansion or stuff pack, as it likely will not work, or will not work well enough to play!
Once you actually have purchased the expansion pack, you're still not ready to install it just yet! You have some important preparations to do. First and foremost...
Remove Your Hacks
Remove your hacks.
Remove your hacks!
REMOVE YOUR HACKS!!!!!!1111111ONEONEonebanana
This cannot be stressed enough! Hacks created before the expansion pack most likely will not be compatible with it, and can cause major problems in your game - crashes, freezing, sim death, problems in Create a Sim, and other assorted weirdness like options not showing up, pets peeing microwaves or sinking into the ground, sims "jumping" or resetting, plates disappearing from sims' hands, and countless other weird errors.
You should remove ALL of your hacks before you install, shifting them somewhere else on your computer... like a new folder called "Backed Up Hacks" in My Documents or on your desktop, for instance.
You will need to check with the individual creators of your hacks to see if the hacks will be compatible with your new expansion. Sometimes certain simple, basic little hacks will be okay, but anything but the most basic hacks will generally need some updating to be made compatible with the code for the new expansion. This especially applies to ones like The InSIMenator and the InTEENimater, which are never compatible with new expansions until updated.
This is one reason why it's also good to wait while (a few weeks or a month) after a new expansion comes out - it gives time for hack creators to get the expansion, play with it a little, start poking at its functions, and then figure out how to make their work compatible. Please be patient with hack creators during this process - their work is much easier if they don't have to deal with people nagging them for updates.
Don't know where all your hacks are?
If you haven't been separating your hacks out by hand and putting them in a folder in Downloads called Hacks (My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads\Hacks) this whole time you've been getting them, if you've been downloading lots from the Exchange, or just grabbing stuff wildly without paying attention, first of all, shame on you!
Second, if you haven't been sorting out hacks (and that includes hacked objects!) then you are best off doing the Recommended Alternative below.
If you have any custom careers, you need to make sure they are EP ready. You should likely keep them in their own folder too, so you can pull them out along with your hacks when you install a new expansion. Make sure that nobody is away from home at work if you are using custom careers in your game, before taking out those files and installing the expansion, as it can cause problems if you remove those files while your sims are away.
Remove Any Changes to Program Files
It's unlikely, but you may have certain files that you have changed in the course of doing something extremely esoteric to your game that reside in the Program Files\EA Games\The Sims 2\ folder. The installer checks for the date/time stamp of the original file, and if it's not the same, the installer will not continue.
Back Up Your Game!
Sometimes something goes terribly wrong when installing and will just delete, corrupt, or otherwise ruinate all of your user files. This includes your neighborhoods, sims in the sim bin and living in the 'hood, lots in the lot bin and placed in the 'hood, all your custom content, EVERYTHING you have done can be lost.
To prevent this, you must make a copy of it first. For instructions on how to do that, see: Game Help:Back Ups
Even if you remove all your hacks, there can sometimes still be problems with custom content with a new expansion - for example, all custom toilets created before Pets had a problem that could cause resets and errors. Not hacked, just incompatible.
Because of that, and because of the risk of major bugs in a new expansion, it's recommended that you move out ALL your user files instead when you first install. Play the game clean, using default neighborhoods and no custom content for a while. Use Maxis families and just play around with the expansion's new options the way the game was designed to be played.
To do this, move the entire The Sims 2 folder from My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2 somewhere else on your hard drive and give it a new name - My Documents\The Sims 2 Backup should work fine.
The following types of custom files are always safe for new expansions:
- All makeup and facial texturing recolours - eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, lipstick, and full-face makeup
- All facial hair - eyebrows, stubble, and non-3d beards.
- All genetics - eyes and skintones
- All Body Shop recolours of Maxis meshes - clothing and accessories
- Walls, floors, and ground cover
Anything else is possibly not fully compatible with the new expansion, and you should remove it until you can confirm that it will work in your game if you want to be absolutely safe.
Install & Run
ONLY once you have done all of the above can you install your new expansion safely. That part should be relatively straightforward. Put the disk in, put the key in, install to the default location.
Bon Voyage and later EPs come with a launcher screen. It's mostly harmless, but can sometimes cause a bug which requires you to reinstall a previous EP. If you want to be absolutely sure that this cannot happen to you, you can bypass the launcher.
Once the new EP is installed, try running it using the disk for the latest-released expansion you own, or its icon. If you've installed out of order you will use the disk for the latest-releasd expansion - the newest in stores, not the last one you installed.
Custom Content Not Showing Up?
After installing a new expansion, your custom content almost always will not be showing up properly.
Thanks to daysies for the original article.
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