The 2001 Dimensions FAT SIMS Project
The Sims - a true treasure for FAs
Foreword, May 2003: Sometime during the Spring of 2001 I spent an inordinate
amount of time playing "The Sims" and figuring out how to customize their
clothes and their bodies. I got pretty far and eventually was able to create
my own body classes that retained their bodies in all phases of the game. This page was written as a record of my
investigations and a tutorial for others who had the same goals. However, be
warned that due to the transient nature of the Web, many links will likely
no longer work, and a lot of the stuff I discovered may or may not work on
current editions or add-on packs. I
have not kept up with Maxis' newer add-on packs or online editions, and I've
forgotten most of what I discovered back then. - CHB
Computer game maker Maxis has been delighting its audience for over a decade with a series of "Sim" games where you control the lives of "sim"ulated little people in a variety of ways. In SimCity, for example, you planned their entire town, set their taxes, and provided for public services. In SimTower, you built elevators, cafeterias, and escape routes. In each Sim game, you prime the pump and set the rules, gently managing the Sims' existence and environment. If you do a good job they will thrive and be happy. If not, they will be in a foul mood and their world will fall apart. "The Sims" takes this concept of running your own little world to the extreme by allowing you to control individual Sims directly. You can create Sim people, furnish their homes, and then watch them go about their daily lives. The game is so fascinating that it not only won any number of awards, but also became the subject of a growing list of websites dedicated the The Sims.
While most game-related websites are about strategy and cheats, the Sim websites are primarily about "skins." The term "skins" is often used to describe various backgrounds or different looks for user interfaces and objects in software. In "The Sims," a skin is a skin, the surface of a body, either clothed or nude. You can change those skins and thus change the way Sims look. The game itself lets you pick from a variety of outfits for a variety of male or female Sims with different hair, three different skin tones, and three different body shapes. While that makes for a large variety of different Sims, creating new "skins" has become almost a cottage industry of Sim fashion designers. That's because it is relatively easy to create new clothes for the Sims, giving them entirely new looks and personalities. But it goes farther than that. You can also create new faces and new bodies. That alone explains why The Sims has become so popular. On the web you'll for example, find downloadable "skins' for pop stars like Britney Spears, actresses like Pamela Andersen, or any number of other public figures. There are even sites dedicated to movie monsters, famous dictators (yes, you can have Idi Amin or Mussolini in your Sim house), and whatever else you can imagine, including the Alien or a variety of winged creatures. And if you're in a particularly sinister mood, check out Evil Sims .
Given all that, it's easy to see that The Sims is not only a great game, but also one that has plenty if fantasy and sex appeal.
Unfortunately, The Sims live in a thin world and thus leave fat people and FAs wanting. Though the three generic body shapes are called "skinny" "fit," and "fat," they really range from skeletal to merely average. A "fat" female Sim would perhaps weigh 140 or 150 pounds in real life. Not exactly "fat." As a result, there have been several posts on the Dimensions Weight Board asking for fat skins. In this article I'll describe what can be done to spice up the Sims for FAs and fat people.
To give you an idea of what's possible, let me say right upfront that you CAN create fat Sims, that you CAN spice up the game by removing the censorship blur that appear every time a Sim takes a shower or bath, that you CAN make Sims appear anatomically correct, and that you CAN make them retain their fat bodies even when they undress, or switch into a night gown or bathing suit. Given the right tools, you can create the Sim of your dreams or even replace the entire set of standard Sims with fat ones. And we're not just talking simply larger versions of the standard Sims. You can literally create Sims in any body shape you desire. To give you a graphic example, let's say you like pear shapes and are a big fan of "Brie," the lovely model that has graced the pages and cover of Dimensions Magazine in the past. Well, you can create a Sim that looks just like her, including the face if you're really good at it, add perhaps a little weight here or there, and dress her in whatever you want. You can then create a Sim that looks just like you (or the way you'd love to look) and move in with your Brie Sim. She'll be nude and anatomically correct when she takes her clothes off, and when you're nude, it will show how glad you are to have her in your life. Get the picture?
To get that far takes quite a bit of research, experimentation, and experience in manipulating Sims, and you need to have a variety of tools and software patches. Specifically, you'll need:
This application shows what newly created Sims and skins look like in 3D. It is a free program downloadable from the official Maxis Sims site. It lets you look at what your new bodies, clothes, and heads look like. If you are happy with one of your new creations, you can then export it to the game. The SimShow is actually no longer supported and has been replaced with The Sims Character Studio that you can also download from the official Maxis site. It gives you much closer look at the Sims, but it also has a tendency to crash, especially when it encounters custom-made Sims. For that reason, I still use SimShow.
This is another free must-have program you can download from the official Sims site. The Sims Editor lets you edit the personality of your Sims, making them more likable and successful. (In ireali Sim life, they have to painstakingly earn professional and interpersonal skills). A new version, created for the Livin' Large Expansion Pack goes well beyond that. You can now iediti relationships between Sims and even play Cupid by making them fall in love with each other. You can also give them different clothes and, most importantly, lots of money. Each new Sim family starts out with just $20,000 and that means you're not going to get anywhere for a long time. Having the Sims Editor is like winning the lottery for the Sims. It's cheating, but it's much more fun to play with Sims that have enough money to buy stuff.
This is probably the most important application for those who want to create fat Sims. While custom-made iskinsi simply drape over existing body types, BodyWarp lets you load the 3D wire frame models of all Sim bodies and manipulate the various body parts every Sim is made of. It is a free download from Spanki's Skin Shack. The good news is that with a bit of practice you can create just about any body shape you want. The bad new is that it's tough to master and it doesn't include hands or the head.
Essentially, what you do is manipulate the two dozen or so 3D objects that make up a Sim body. Each object, such as "Leg1" can be scaled, moved, and rotated in the X, Y, or Z axis, or any combination thereof. This is one instance where those geometry classes in high school pay off!
Getting it just right is not easy, but it can be a lot of fun. A few tips: always "lock" extremities so that a change to a right thigh is reflected on the left one, too. And make absolutely sure you know which axes to lock, or else you'll end up with some pretty weird looking bodies.
I should also mention that you can load skins onto the bodies in BodyWarp. That way you can see how a certain outfit will look on your newly created Sim body.
If you're up to using a more generic 3D modeling program, try the freebie MilkShape 3D. The Maxis people themselves use 3D Studio max for all art and
As long as you're creating new bodies, it'd be nice to have faces of certain people to go with them. That is not easy. The Sims comes with a variety of male and female faces and face skins. Not all face skins look good on all head types, and creating your own face skin is one of the most difficult things in the Sims. Face Lift helps a bit because it lets you "map" faces to the various head shapes of Sims. You can manipulate eyes, mouth, chin, nose, general shape of features, etc. It is a free download from the official Maxis Sims site. Personally, I find it frustrating because there's no easy way to manipulate just the face you want. You have to go through numerous random permutations of faces until you get to yours, and even then it rarely looks the way you want.
The "nude patch"
When Sims take a shower or a bath, they take off their clothes and one of those annoying censorship patches (similar to the blocky patches on Japanese erotica) appears. Fortunately, there is a inude patchi that removes the censorship shimmer. You can find it here or in the adult section of Evil Sims.
Anatomically correct nude skins
There really is no difference between nude and clothed skins. They are just graphics files that drape over/map to the various body shapes. This means that you may well include a ibirthday suit' in your Sims' wardrobe. Since the game views those nude skins as just another set of clothes, there is no censorship shimmer. However, after you install the nude patch you'll get a better look at the Sim's default nude bodies and you're in for a disappointment: in the best Ken and Barbie style, they have no nipples or private parts.
Fortunately, the Sim community has created anatomically correct nude skins. These come in the three different skin tones and replace the standard nude bodies of the Sims whenever they take their clothes off. You can stick with just the females from The Wage of the Sims or also download anatomically correct male nude skins from the same site. For some reason, they sport erections whenever they are nude, and also when they wear their bathing suits. The creators of those male skins said they did it in response to female requests and also because non-erect male organs weren't really visible in the not terribly hi-res Sims game. You decide whether what degree of graphic realism you want!
These are absolutely essential if you plan on learning (let alone mastering) the making and manipulation of skins. There is no one authoritative source of tutorials, so I'll list a selection of the best ones.
The Sims Resource has a number of tutorials and you should definitely read the one on skins and customization.
Equally important is the Sims Skins Tutorial at the Sims Gallery. It consists of four parts and is a little weird because it illustrates how it all works and fits together on a set of Dragonfly wings, but it does contains the crucial mapping of the Sims' body parts and also the key to deciphering the cryptic file names. Without understanding the file naming conventions used in the Sims, you'll be eternally frustrated.
A great tutorial on how to make skins and dresses is at Threnody's Chic Boutique. Another one that shows how to make dresses step by step is "How to make your own skins".
If you want to get into the really technical stuff, check out the background on bones, musculature, and file structures at this site.
There are numerous sites that have free skins you can download (in fact, so far everything I've seen in the Sim subculture is free except, of course, the program itself). Though almost all "skins' come in the standard body shapes, download a selection of the best ones anyway. Their clothes (and I've seen some very sexy stuff) will also fit any of your own creations. Zincman's site has some cool stuff, including adult skins. There are some other cool ones, including pregnant Sims and SimOnes, a German site has a few not-so-skinny Sims, though you're still better off making your own. There aren't many sites that offer anything for large-size Sims and the few that due still use the standard "fat" bodies, such as the XL section in the Sims Stuff site.
The tools listed above (ranging from basic to quite involved) allow you to do the basic manipulations. To get beyond that, you'll need some more esoteric tools that often require considerable technical knowledge, experience, and talent. For example, since the standard "wireframe" skeleton of any Sim consists of only so many parts that can be manipulated in only so many ways, there are tools that let you convert those skeletons into a standard file format that's used by a number of the more popular 3D modeling programs. Not for the fainthearted. Skn>Obj is available at Kelahn's site.
What would any topic be without a good list of links? One of my favorite ones is Threnody's. You can find other good link pages at Simlings, the Cloth Menagerie, and there are plenty more.
Engaging in making your own Sims can become a consuming passion, especially for FAs who appreciate different body forms and shapes. I think I've spent 90% of my time playing around with the tools and searching the web for resources, and only about 10% actually playing the game.
Even after you've downloaded all of the above listed tools and tutorials and spent a good chunk of time laying and experimenting, you'll encounter some truly tough nuts to crack. Installing the "uncensor" patch is easy, and creating your first fat Sims with BodyWarp isn't too difficult either. Getting nude skins into play is a bit more difficult because you really need to get the file names right and place the files into the right directories. But there are other problems.
The Sims Hands problem
For example, for some reason a Sim's hands are neither shown in the BodyWarp program nor in SimShow. No big deal until you start creating fat Sims. The arms of the skinny default Sims all hang straight down, so when you create a pear shaped body, the arms intersect with the body, which looks weird and unrealistic. To fix that you can move the arms out and angle them away from the body. Problem is that the hands don't move with them! Even a staff expert at The Sims Resource didn't have an answer to that one.
I didn't think that was going to be so difficult. From what I can tell, you can "attach" additional objects to a Sim's body by modifying the files. That's how some people make fairy Sims with wings. It would seem that when you move and angle the arms of a fat Sim, the corresponding hands files would properly attach to the new location of the hands.
Learning from Big Gloria
(Note: When I recorded my experiences with Sims, I couldn't remember where
the "Big Gloria" files came from. It has since been brought to my attention.
"Big Gloria" is a creation of Ra at Sim Chaotics.
Apologies to Ra for this ommission. Without his Big Gloria files I might
never have been able to figure out some of the inner workings of SIMs.)
A second tough nut to crack is that the new fat bodies you create should also have nude and swimsuit/pajama body equivalents. If you don't have those, your fat goddess will return to a slender body every time she takes a bath or goes to bed-definitely not an optimal situation! Fortunately, I came across iBig Gloriai (can't recall where). Big Gloria is more than just a skin or new body. It is an entirely new body type, in addition to skn, fit, and fat. Whoever crated it called the body type SOB. When you unzip the archive, the files will automatically go into three different folders, PEOPLE1, PEOPLE2, and TEXTURES2. These folders must go into the TheSims/GameData folder. Big Gloria will then become selectable as a Sim character. She comes in all three skin colors, but doesn't have her own head, so you can pick any head you want. You can tell Big Gloria by her only dress, a dark two-piece bathing suit with a stylized sun on it.
What sets Gloria apart is that she has her own nude body, her own pajama body, and her own bathing suit body. This means that studying how "Big Gloria" works is the key to having true body diversity in The Sims. Understanding how it all fits together means that you'll be able to create all sorts of different fat Sims that retain their own body when they take a bath or go to bed, unlike mere fat body skins that revert to the "standard" nude and sleepwear bodies.
I initially thought that The Sims could only accommodate the three built-in body types, and that you'd be limited to those three when creating your own skins. Big Gloria showed me that this is not the case. Studying and using the files and naming conventions allowed me to create my own separate body class. Yes, Dimensions' very own Heather has her own body class. As you can see, she wears a cute yellow outfit whe she's around the house, a sexy nightie when she goes to bed, a bathing suit for swimming and in the hot tub, and nothing at all for a relaxing bubble bath. And just like the real Heather, she gets a bit huffy when she really, really wants to eat. What I can't show is how her anatomically correct boyfriend (whoever that might be) reacts to her...
Download Heather Vers. 0.9 and put the People1, People2, and Textures2 foldes into the GameData folder of your Sims directory. If you do it right, you will be able to select Heather in that yellow dress as a new Sim, and her nude, swimsuit, and nightie versions will be installed as well...
I should mention that the mere act of creating a skin, the surface of the body either nude or with clothes, isn't easy either. That's because the entire 3D texture of a Sim's body is placed into a square, flat layout that you can edit in Photoshop or any other imaging program. A square skin image actually contains no less than 11 different areas, each a rectangle that is later wrapped onto the 3D body of a Sim. Imagine that you have to project the entire world from a globe onto a square sheet of paper and you see what you're up to. Those skin image files look nothing like actual Sims or actual clothes. It takes a good deal of imagination (let alone trial and error) to create something from scratch.
The more you look into the Sims, the more you realize that the aspects you can most easily customize fall into two different categories: art and proper naming of files. If you're an artist, you ca come up with some very hot new outfits for the Sims. There are almost no limits to your creativity. However, unless you have a pretty good understanding of the file naming conventions, you're essentially dead in the water. If you do learn the naming conventions, you cannot only create new body classes (and see them work) but you can also assign clothes and heads to the proper bodies and so on.
Beyond the basics
I should mention that while I am primarily interested in the Sims themselves, the people, almost every other part of the Sims' world can be modified and customized as well; houses, furniture, art, the way Sims move, and so on. There are entire websites dedicated to each of those aspects of game customization as well. Come to think of it, it probably would be interesting to modify iskillsi files or create new ones for fat Sims. After all, fat people move differently. Also, since there is the iadult patch,i I am surprised that there don't seem to be any iadult skills.i I mean, without those the Sims would lead a rather dull life.
Far beyond the basics
There is also a dimension beyond what have described here, one that digs deeper into the files and how everything fits together in the Sims. .skn and .cmx files are simple ASCII text files full of codes and numbers, and some of the most dedicated souls have been trying to crack those codes, and how the whole games works in general.
A-- Sims basic file naming convention
Skin file name conventions:
The file name starts with:
B = Body
C = Head
The three-digit number tells the game which body shape to use.
Your skin file name must have the same file name as the body you want to use.
For example, the female crop top and shorts is body 001.
So when I make a top and shorts, I would name it B001.
When I use the mid-length skirt, the body file is 008, so I would name it B008.
After the letter and three numbers, you will see:
FA = female adult
MA = male adult
MC = male child
FC = female child
After that is the body type. There are four:
After that is the body color:
Then you always have an underline like _ and then the name of your skin.
So the skin name must have seven components.
Body type n skin number n gender n body style n body color n underline n skin name
B 001 Fa Fit Lgt _ myskin
.bmp files are the "skins", the textures that are painted on the bodies or heads of your Sims.
.cmx files are lists of the "body" files that make up Sims
.skn files are "body" files, they are descriptions of Sims body shapes and dimensions
BoThe "Big Gloria" files
Understanding the naming conventions in the Big Gloria files is the definite key to creating your own body classes. Here's what is in the three Big Gloria folders:
Three .cmx files that indicate which body skn file to use:
And three body .skn files
xskin-B300FASOB_SOBigGloria-PELVIS-MBODY.skn (see snap)
xskin-FFSOB_SOBigGloria-PELVIS-MBODY (see snap)
xskin-PajamaFSOB_SOBigGloria-PELVIS-MBODY (see snap)
The first and third body seem identical, the second is shaped to wear a skirt.
A .cmx file that seems to call a nude female body:
Once again, the same body as above
xskin-NFSOB_SOBigGloria-PELVIS-MBODY.skn (see snap)
B300FASOBLgt_SOBigGloria.bmp (the two piece bathing suit)
FFSOBLgt_SOBigGloria.bmp (sexy skirt dress with stockings)
NFSOBLgt_SOBigGloria.bmp (Big Gloria's naked skin)
The above files come in all three skin colors
Email me if you want to discuss this or have additional insights.