Okay, back to The Sims. I keep recieving a lot of email from people asking the same old questions so I figure I’ll just whisk through a few of the gems here which should answer some questions. At some point when I have time I’ll sit down and do a FAQ for the site. Yeah yeah, I know. Some point. You get what you pay for eh.

Q: Where are the tutorials!

A: They’re still in my head (and partially on my hard drive). Writing any documentation is always the bane of any programmers existance and we avoid it like the plague. It’s been a long time without them and I’m slightly torn spending time writing ones for the current version of blueprint while it doesn’t do everything it really should and I’d rather concentrate on the new version and writing tutorials for it. Of course since you don’t get a copy yet, it doesn’t make much sense to do this for the site. Bit of a conundrum. I’m also a little biased because I fire the program up and don’t seem to have any problems getting around, but then I wrote it didn’t I? I think one of the major issues with tutorials (besides them not being online) is that people write me and say “I don’t know what to do!” and expect a tutorial to show them the weirding ways. Maybe it will but I thought the program was fairly self-explanatory. Then again, the time it took me to write this mini-FAQ could have been spent working on the tutorials? Not enough coffee Bil? Probably. Anyways, they’ll get online as soon as I can find time.

Q: Why isn’t blueprint/SimExplorer/etc. Open Source?

A: I love the Open Source movement (even more so than The Sims themselves) and have several OS programs on the go right now. Open Source is the facility where a developer (or team of developers) makes the source code, the human readable instructions as to how the program works, available to the public with every release of the software. Unfortunately, some of the routines I use belong to Maxis and I don’t have the authorization to release that to anyone. This also explains why I can’t yank in a large team of developers and get everyone working on the programs and subsequently why it takes a coons age to get software completed.

Q: What language are your programs written in?

A: Everything is written in C++. This is my language of choice (although I do enjoy writing in Delphi/Object Pascal as well) but also it makes the programs compatible with other routines I use for loading IFF files, reading sprites, etc.

Q: Where are the file formats described?

A: I started documenting the formats (staring with the FAR format and moving through the character ones) earlier this year. Again, like the tutorials, they’ll go online as soon as I can find time to complete them. The hope is that well documented file formats (with sample source code in various languages to help the budding programmer) will help people write their own tools. At least that’s the plan. I’m not the evil dictorial programmer that wants everything to himeself that everyone thinks I am. Really. Okay, that didn’t sound too convincing did it?

Q: Your program xxxxxxx doesn’t work, help me!

A: You need to spend a little time telling me the problem. I can’t tell you how many times I get email like this, with the only option to just delete it and hope the person will either a) figure it out themselves b) post a message on the forum and someone might answer (even me) or c) email me back with more information about the problem. Telling me the program doesn’t work just doesn’t do anyone any good and won’t solve your problem. I know software can be frustrating, but if you don’t explain what you were doing, what happened, etc. then I really can’t help you.

Q: I asked Maxis about your programs but they won’t help me!

A: I really get this question asked, a lot. Please for the love of all that is holy do not email Maxis, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, IBM, or Masters and Johnson about my software. They don’t support it and have enough things to deal with for their own software. Please check and post in the forums here or via email. Posting a message on another message board (whether I frequent there or not) and then screaming at me because I didn’t answer you won’t help either. As strange as it may sound (and it does to me), this site is the main source of information for my programs. If you’re having problems with The Sims in general, you might try the forums here but again don’t email me with issues about installing the game or where to get cheat codes or any of that stuff. I know this sound silly, but I get goobers of email from people asking me tech support questions on the game. I am not affiliated or associated with Maxis in any way.

Have a day!