FAR File Loading Times

Some people have been finding that creating your own FAR files (rather than having 2000 individual object files) seems to improve performance and loading times in The Sims.

Just thought I’d throw in my own info about FAR files.

First off, just think of them as Zip files. YOu can put multiple files into a FAR including directories. When The Sims loads, it looks for file types in various directories (including Downloads and UserObjects). This includes FAR files. If there’s a FAR file there, it adds it to a queue for loading.

This is primarily the reason why your load times will signifigantly decrease by putting all your objects into a single FAR file. The Sims opens the FAR file once, reads in the header information and then loads each object. So instead of opening and closing 2500 files, it only has to do this once. That’s where most of the overhead is. A few more notes:

1. You cannot archive files other than IFFs, SPR, etc. That is, no skins walls or floors. Yeah I know, that sucks. They might have changed this for Vacation but I doubt it.

2. You cannot have a FAR inside another FAR. It won’t be recognized at load time.

3. FAR files are basically archives and since your IFF is inside it, you cannot edit it directly. You’ll need to extract it or clone it first before you use MenuEdit, etc. If it’s just a quick thing you want to do like change the catagory, extract it, edit then put it back in the FAR.

4. FAR files are not compressed so there’s no disk savings here. There is a compression flag, but Maxis has yet to turn it on.

5. Downloads vs. UserObjects folder. Main difference is that UserObjects was meant for exactly that. User created objects. Downloads was originally meant for Maxis authorized downloads. Somewhere along the line, this didn’t get communicated to everyone so hence we have Tmog (and other stuff, mine included) dumping things into Downloads. However, you can have sub-folders in the Downloads folder. UserObjects only supports a single folder (but I could be wrong on that, I don’t remember offhand). It’s much easier to organize your objects in sub-folders in the Downloads folder, then FAR up the entire directory structure once you’re done.

The file limit in a FAR (from what I can tell) is about 500,000. After that it won’t process FAR files with more than that. As for the size, I think you really have to play with it based on your system. Someone could probably come up with some metrics around it (like 10mb for a PII-400 systems or something like that) but try building them in 5 or 10mb chunks and see what works for you. It’s more of an art than a science.

I think that’s about it for info and such. Bottom line: FAR is good. FAR is your friend. Use the FAR!