How it started: Custom content in The Sims 1 – Face edition

Custom Content has been part of The Sims for as long as the game existed. But things were not always quite as sophisticated as they are today. Well, I guess we used to have our internet connections cut whenever somebody picked up a telephone, so....

Greetings youths, the people reading this who grew up without ever having to suffer the agony of your internet cutting out when somebody wanted to make a call on the landline. Wait, you probably don’t know what a landline is either, huh? Oh well…

With The Sims celebrating its 21st birthday this week, we thought we’d share a little throwback to how things worked back in our day. insert animation of elder’s back cranking here.

Now, let’s be clear: we are by no means saying that The Sims 4 is free of faults and that it’s all fairies and moonshine. The game doesn’t even have fairies as a life state, so that suggestion would be preposterous.

What we are saying, however, is that The Sims used to be wild. We are talking Sims setting off fireworks inside their house and burning everything down and not being able to get out of a pool without a ladder kind of wild.

And then there was Create-a-Sim. You know those side-by-side comparisons of people vs their Simself that you see floating around on the internet? Well, even the best creations do not match the precision that was offered by The Sims. Yet, that is not a good thing, at all.

In fact, it is absolutely horrifying. For those not acquainted with the OG edition of The Sims, the CAS customisation options were somewhat limited. You got a choice of three skin tones and there were no sliders for body shape.

In terms of deciding what your Sim looked like…. well… you had to take what you were given. What we were given with The Sims 1 was premade faces with no way whatsoever to change them. Like we said, wild.

However, if you wanted to recreate some of your favourite people in the game there was a way to make custom content for their likeness.

Custom Content skins in The Sims 1

You won’t be surprised to discover that custom content for The Sims 1 exists on The Sims Resource to this very day. The fact that some of these creations are actually quite good is hardly a surprise either.

So if you are hankering for a bit of nostalgia and you want to dig out your old Sims 1 discs and play it on Windows 10 just use some of this CC… go right ahead.

But if you are here out of morbid curiosity, let’s not waffle on any longer. Because of the limitations with customisation in the original version of The Sims, the best way to make CC for the OG game was to just take a picture of somebody’s face and stretch it over a mesh. Like some sort of benevolent Dr. Frankenstein who prefers to use a digital outlet for his dark desires rather than screwing bolts into somebody’s neck.

The process was remarkably simple. A programmed called The Sims Creator made it possible with the click of a few buttons. Herewith Exhibit A: The Creator Himself.

If you do not recognise the man in the screenshot above, he is the reason your life is miserable and you’ve spent all your money on a video game you keep saying you hate but you keep playing because you do really love The Sims and it’s so helpful for your control-freak tendencies, that is Mr. Will Wright, the man from whose brain The Sims was born.

In this demonstration, you can witness the full horror of how the original CC process for The Sims worked. After searching for the photo of the individual you’d like to put in a pool without a ladder you’d like to spend some time with in a digital world, you’d be greeting with this monstrous vision of horror.

You could tweak thing s a bit to make the face fit more snuggly – or if you were really talented you could do some stuff like the creators we showed above – but overall, we’re pretty sure that this is at least partially responsible for a couple of nightmares we’ve had over the years.

Because Sims in the original version didn’t really have facial expressions, it didn’t matter that your newly created Frankensim was botoxed to whatever photograph you had decided should represent them. It was weird.

Thankfully, The Sims has made a fair bit of progress in Create-a-Sim. For everything else (like body hair, cellulite and almost everything else you can dream of…), there are modders.


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