3rd city – StarlingSprings

In February 2008 I started to built a third The Sims 2 urban town, this time by using University Expansion Pack. I downloaded few user-made maps and choose to use StarlingSprings map because is a medium-sized, flat neighborhood, with dense and regulated street network, plus a river that split the map in two asymmetric zones (the map can be downloaded from modthesims.info or gethanesims.prismbaby.com).

Initial development – 2008-2010

I standardized tower blocks of 9 storeys (originally 8) and walk-up blocks of 3-4-5 storeys arranged in an even more dense and efficient layout than in previous urban city Pleasantview. Here are some 2 screenshots from 2008.

 

I turned into an adult and a busy businessman, so was unlikely to ever finish this city. The city remained built less than a half. The construction advanced, thanks to some working in 2009 and 2010, but meantime I changed my plan and now I like to have 4 different housing estates each with own design style, a less repetitive design, more layouts, lines of tower blocks on each coast and sides, so I need to rebuilt, and this takes very very very much work time! I was thinking to “hire” a child with free time to build the city according my plan, but did not found anyone willing to help me.

These are most recent screenshots taken in 2010.

 
 
 
 

This architectural masterpiece, according 2010 plan, had to have around 180 housing lots with around 600-650 apartment blocks, plus 4 or 5 narrow parks and community spaces, and several landed housing areas.

Resumed construction – 2016

Between 2010 and 2015 been busy to build my business so i can live independently from parents. In 2016 I started having again free time for gaming, and resumed construction of this city. I designed a master plan in AutoCAD, with existing blocks and re-planned many blocks according ideas which came during 2010 as well as completely new ideas. After making plan in AutoCAD and went in game to start building, saving time, instead of planning directly in game by building foundations only. I took another break in August 2016 and Resumed in March 2017.

According 2016 plan, the city has to have 226 lots with 54 tower blocks, 623 low-rise blocks and 139 houses. I modified the plan several times and in 2017 the count was 231 lots, 55 tower blocks, 599 walk-up blocks and 164 houses.

City master plan made with AutoCAD including lot numbering – click image to open PDF

StarlingSprings map have two 3-squares zones aligned north-south approximately at middle of each side of river, since 2008 I decided to develop them as park. Another 2-3 parks were planned in 2009-2010, but in 2016 I turned into built-up areas, leaving just 2 parks.

In 2008 the block pattern was a mess, in 2009-2010 I choose to make most walk-up blocks aligned east-west, while tower blocks are all aligned north-south. In 2008 I made blocks facing park 5-storey, blocks facing streets 4-storey, rear blocks 3-storey (one extra storey compared with PleasantView), and tower blocks 7+1-storey (increased to 8+1 storey in 2009). But this caused certain blocks to be covered by the taller blocks near parks. In 2016 I changed mind to make east-west blocks 3-storey and north-south blocks 4-storey (with some exceptions). By this way I also removed the 45-degree corners, to make corner blocks from 2 interlocked cubes of different heights and colors.

I created an uniform city design but vibrant in terms of colors and patterns. Due to non-regulated street layout, was a challenge to make symmetric patterns, that mix up with other asymmetric patterns.

 
 

At some moment I was thinking to build few unique buildings in some strategic places in the city, but I abandoned idea because will break the uniformity.

Finalized city – 2017

 
 


 

North Zone

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

South zone

 
 
 

 
 

West zone

 
 

 

Comparison with a real city

StarlingSprings urban neighborhood was inspired by public housing built in communist Romania, nice blocks at street and uglier blocks behind usually painted blue, in 2008 I made all blocks white then colored in blue and green the rear blocks. Then I realized that in The Sims there is no distinction between street blocks and rear blocks. In 2010 I came with idea to make 4 zones each with a distinctive color. In 2016 I further improved the idea and made 4-storey blocks white and 3-storey blocks in the distinctive color of each zone.

See the following screenshots taken in Google Earth from Bucharest. In Virtutii neighborhood you can see corner blocks and Z-shaped blocks having one side with 1 extra floor. Same in my The Sims city.

 
 

Download SAMPLE lot

Purchase whole city

How to build taller than 5 floors

The Sims 2 is the ONLY game in Sims series where you can increase max floors limit using a cheat.

By default, The Sims 2 allow you to built up to 5 levels. This means houses like basement + 3 floors + roof or terrace. You can eliminate the basement, or built an underground floor inside basement. There is a TRICK that allow building 6 levels: put a dormer on the highest level, but this will not allow anymore stepped roofs taller than one floor.

University Expansion Pack allows to change the floor limit: press Ctrl+Shift+C when you are in Neighborhood (NOT in a lot), type sethighestallowedlevel 16 (or any number up to 255), then open any lot and you can built more levels. If the height limit was reached, just put a dormer to unlock the limit.

 

BEWARE! the game will crash when you reach a certain height, of 16 levels if you use basement or 15 levels if you do not use basement.

In neighborhood views you will not see floors tiles higher than 150 steps from street level. Each floor have 16 steps and foundation normally have 4 steps, 16 steps x 9 floors = 144 steps, you can use raise ground or use foundation of max 6 steps, however ground floor raised at levels not divisible by 4 cause a ugly look in neighborhood, so when you are building skyscrapers you should stick at 4 step foundation and 9 floors.

The towers shown in above photos show max possible building height (pink skyscraper, basement + 15 floors), and highest flooring which appears in Neighborhood view (green skyscraper, basement + 9 floors) so the roof flooring is at 11th level.

You can also create a huge hole in the ground and by this way you can have the floor tiles displayed even at 16th level (the game crash at 16 levels regardless of the height from street level), but again will look ugly.

Alternatively, you can use pitched roof to cover tall buildings, see through windows that internal floors are not displayed above 10th level.

Imperial Building Imperial Building

Lots saved with University expansion pack, regardless of number of floors, can be open and played in any other version of The Sims 2 including base game, any University object is deleted rather than crashing the game, the single “problem” is that the University lots viewed in base game have crazy prices, even negative prices, like $-987,123,456.00, you need to enter in lot and save lot in base game, then you can play a base game lot with 16 floors.

This is not working for newer expansion packs, from Nightlife to Apartment Life, each having own version for saved files, and trying to open lots without required expansion packs will crash the game.

Other games

The Sims 1 allow you to build 1 or 2 levels only, lower and upper level, and no foundation. Roof is added automatically over any area enclosed with walls.

The sims 3 allow you to build up to 6 levels, 6th level cannot hold walls but only roof or floor tiles and railings. Foundation and frieze (a 4-step tall zone that divide floors) also count as levels. So you can for example build a house with basement and 4 floors plus roof. World Adventures expansion pack add option to build basements, up to 4 levels underground. But for efficiency you shouldn’t have more than 2 habitable floors, otherwise your sims will waste a lot of time going from one task to another.

The Sims 4 allow you to build up to 4 levels above ground and 2 levels under ground (basement). Foundation does not count as level, it is added automatically over entire house and you can adjust its height from 0 to 9 steps even after the house was built.

0 – Planned cities

From 2006 got idea to practice my architecture and urban planning talent in The Sims 2, to build a big town from scratch, with high-density apartment-like buildings. The Sims 2 Apartment Life was not launched that times.

I planned several building prototypes, the first ideas was to built functional and nice shaped apartment buildings, only one row at street, and only 1-2 buildings in a lot. But later I choose smaller and more non-functional blocks, simple and cubist blocks without balconies or other decorations, and copy same lots again and again, for time economy.

I created 4 block models:

– Linear apartment building, 12×6 units, 6 windows, for 3 × n lots.
– Corner apartment building, 10×10 units, 7 windows, for 3 × n lots.
– Corner Long apartment building, 14×10 units, 9 windows, for 3 × 2 or 5 × n lots.
– Linear Long apartment building, 20 × 6 units, 10 windows, for special cases.

Frontal facades are placed at 4 squares from the lot margins, side facades are placed at 2 squares from lot margins, so in a 3×3 lot can be placed up to 4 blocks, in a 5×5 lot up to 9 blocks. Distance between frontal facades is 18 squares, between back facades is minimum 10 squares.

A thing that really SUCKS: the sun direction is decided at lot creation and saved with it! If you rotate the lot, the sun rotates too, the neighborhood view will become ugly because some buildings will be lightened from wrong directions. Also the shadows of buildings ends wrong at lot limits. The entire wall under a balcony appears wrong in shadow. For a nice neighborhood view, you must turn off shadows, avoid building balconies and avoid rotating lots.

Unlike The Sims 1, you cannot place any walls less than 2 squares from lot limits, so you cannot create buildings that apparently continue from one lot to another.

The Sims 2 Urban Cities built by Teoalida

Now with everything standardized, I started building my first city IslaSegundo in November 2006 and never finished.
If finished, it would had about 260 lots with about 700 apartment blocks.

IslaSegundo

Second city PleasantView in April 2007, second phase done in February 2008.
Total: 81 lots, 17 high-rise blocks, 209 low-rise blocks, 35 landed houses.

Pleasantview

Third city StarlingSprings in February 2008, abandoned in 2010, resumed working in 2016, finalized in 2017.
Total: 231 lots, 55 high-rise blocks, 599 low-rise blocks and 164 landed houses.

StarlingSprings

1st city – IslaSegundo

Now, with everything standardized, in November 2006 I started to build my first The Sims 2 urban town.

I used IslaSegundo because it is the biggest map available in game, but after one week I abandoned the work because the city became too big, had too many lots and buildings, caused the game to run too slowly and even to crash (I had a crappy computer too, 512 MB RAM), anyway the city had a ugly looking, big rows of identical building on every street (due to copying same lots for time economy) and badly arranged tower blocks on sea coast, many zones were too far from a street to be built-able, this is why I did not put trees, to prevent showing difference between spaces in a lot and spaces in empty land.

 
 

This piece of shit could had around 260 housing lots with around 700 apartment blocks, plus some landed housing areas.

2nd city – Pleasantview

In April 2007 I decided to start another The Sims 2 urban town, this time I choose Pleasantview because is a small and flat neighborhood with nice street network, also it is the single Maxis-made map with streets enough closer to have no non-buildable tiles.

I demolished everything from original neighborhood to replace with high-density apartment-like blocks, in more different shapes and colors than in previous city IslaSegundo, plus a nice curved line of tower blocks on waterfront. The city was planned with many symmetric zones, and was completed with trees arranged in grid, and I did not used all available, build-able space on the map like what I did in previous city.

The city was built only 80% from what was planned in April 2007, and all blocks were white, but in February 2008 when I made plans for a third city on StarlingSprings map, I decided to finish the Pleasantview too, also I re-colored some blocks in red, green, blue, yellow, pink, and I added landed housing zone.

 
 
 

Guess how many lots have the 9×9 zone from left photo! Then look to right photo to see the answer! I arranged the blocks and trees to create apparently seamless lots.

 

This architectural masterpiece have 81 housing lots covering 976 neighborhood squares (plus 10 non-built squares), 209 normal blocks, 17 tower blocks, 35 landed houses, and one 35 squares park.