Week One: Castles in the Ayre

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Castles in the Ayre is a new series I plan to post as I create my new medieval Sims 2 neighborhood.  It will serve as a change log for me, and I’ll post it in case it is of use to others.  However, from a reader’s perspective, it will probably range from slightly to exceedingly dry.

After tweaking the memory allocation and graphics of the Sims 2 Ultimate Collection last week, and setting up clean templates, I was lucky enough to find this really amazing list by Mortia on how to set up a medieval ‘hood in Sims 2.  Right away, I followed her advice to set up my Downloads folder and it was quick and easy in a new game to do it.

Following Mortia’s steps, this week most of my time went to the Setting the Stage.  Although I read many posts saying that computers running Sims 2 Ultimate Collection were able to use the Scriptorium to install Gunmod’s Radiance Lighting, I couldn’t get it to work for me on Windows 10 with a standard installation to C:/Program Files (x86)/Origin Games.  So two days of simming time went to manually installing Radiance Lighting 2.4, using these fantastic step-by-step directions from Ovenhole at MTS, and then adding Almighty Hat’s A World Lit by Fire mod, which requires the Radiance Lighting system.

I took a deep breath and started up the game to test it in Falls Bridge, and it looked great.  It was a relief that my game still started!  For finishing touches, I added Voeille’s water mod, Sancta Santorum’s realistic Moon and Sun, and  Nighttracer’s  seasons fix for Radiance Lighting.  I also installed Sancta Sanctorum Sky of Totalitarianism  and then Great Cheesecake Persona’s seasons ready skylines, followed by Criquette’s horizons.

This screenshot is the result of all of the above, in game. I love the look from neighborhood view of Middleground.  To me, this view almost perfectly resembles what I imagine Ayre to look like.  By the way, this screenshot was taken with boolprop DisplayNeighborhoodRoads false.

Using Sunni’s Town Wall set, I played around in the separate Ayre Build World.  Eventually, I settled on placing the castle on the water, and placed the squire’s manor, four beginning peasant lots, two yeomanry lots, a well, a village green, and a church and cemetery around the castle.  I used GreatCheeseCakePersona’s seasonal fields around the lots.

It’s sort of reminiscent of this castle, in the same region of Scotland.  (I learned a few years ago by researching my ancestors’ name, McElveen, that Ayre is the region we may have come from). So far, so good.

I love the docks, which are protected by the castle wall.

However, after opening the lots, I am finding it difficult to make it work like I want, in lot view.  Basically, the scale of the actual lots to this view is too large and I dislike the hills being so close to the lots.   The lots would have to be much smaller in comparison to the terrain map to reflect what I’m trying to achieve.

I am thinking of my world as a medieval Scottish one, and so although there don’t need to be a lot of trees, finding a balance between a stark landscape and one that has a realistic amount of trees that don’t hover due to steep terrain is really difficult.  Since the nearby hills in this terrain are steep, I wouldn’t be able to use trees on most areas near the town.

For the populated version of the ‘hood, I spent a lot of time smoothing the terrain (see the blocky edges in the ridge above from the build version), to look like glacially cut valleys.  However, for this “build world” I did not take time smoothing the terrain.  But even aside from the blocky edge on the image above, I am not happy with the way the hill looks, looming in the near background of the lot.

These are some of the best pictures I got from inside the lots, and it is not bad (especially if you ignore the pointy tops to the hill behind the fields,) but I think I am going to be unhappy with this terrain in the long run.

Aren’t GreatCheeseCakePersona’s wheat field amazing??

I considered using the Widespot map as a neighborhood view only, and having a different map for lot view, but that seems like a nightmare to maintain as we go along.    So I am probably going to use Avonlea or, I might use Greylings and consider it to be upriver from this area at the mouth of the river.  If I use Greylings I might make Middleground a sub-hood.

Notes About Terrain Replacements

The other area of my set-up on which I spent quite a bit of time this week was trying out default terrains and roads.  I tried out Criquette’s  Rural Charm Lush Terrain Default Replacement (hood and skirt view) and it is gorgeous, but it seemed too bright, especially where it meets Criquette’s horizon.  So I went with Sunni’s Terrain and Road Replacement for now.  Here’s the link to Sunni’s road default for different terrains, including an invisible one.I kept Criquette’s Rural Charm Terrain Paints  and neighborhood decals.  The white cliffs and beaches are the look I wanted for my neighborhood.

I’m not happy with the roads yet, at least not for a neighborhood set in the dark ages.  As I mentioned earlier, I took the first screenshot above with boolprop DisplayNeighborhoodRoads false, but in lot view, the neighborhood roads are still there and I do not like having them.  What I really want to do is use an invisible road default and then add decorative roads as needed.  I saw an invisible road default somewhere but haven’t taken the time to hunt it down yet.

Having a separate, extra version as a build world, it is going to exercise my patience but I think building everything first in a build world, and then uploading the lot and adding to the populated world, will be more sustainable, so that is what I am planning to do.

Miscellaneous Notes from this Week

Default Replacements

Neighborhood Bridges – by Sunni

Country Roads Terrain Mod by Stev84 with neighborhood snow fix by Almighty Hat (might use this instead of Sunni’s)

Medieval Scottish names by Jagatai – went ahead and downloaded these

The terrains I am using from Criquette include:  Criquette’s Winter Texture Default Replacement, Cliff Paint replacement, Pebble beach replacement, Winter Beach default replacement, all at the Rural Terrain download post.

Hexameter’s vehicles default replacements & no cars in neighborhood view, here

Other Terrains and Objects

Kativip (GoS) Legend Peaceful Moments terrains

Published by Shannon SimsFan

Author of Simdale Valley Post

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11 Comments

  1. I’ve spent a lot of time (years) fighting with terrains, some of the problems similar to yours and some not. I’ve never found a solution to what I think you’re describing – looming hills. The textures frequently look bad too. I’ve done what you can’t do given the world you’re building and settle for rising land at the far edge of the map and disguise with trees. I don’t think I understand what you’re doing with a separate build world though or a separate neighborhood view map. BTW, your landscape shots are gorgeous – bleak but green and the gray of the water and sky are perfect.

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    1. Hi Beth! Yes, looming hills is a good way to say it. Today I tried to use rocks on the hills and they don’t help either so I am pretty sure I am just going to abandon trying to get this particular map to work and go for a flatter landscape. I think with the rolling green hills in the distance it will be ok for the look I’m going for.

      The idea of a separate neighborhood view map would be pretty absurd in practice, which I realized quickly. I just meant I’d use this world that I like so much for pictures (and it would not be the world that the sims actually live in) but without a ton of photoshopping way above my ability, I couldn’t do that and even if I could it would be too much trouble. I just really like this map from neighborhood view!

      The separate build world is just the same map, but without any sims. I can build the original lots there, so I can always tweak and re-upload them without any fear of corruption. It also gives me a place to try things out like placing beach lots without ruining my populated neighborhood.

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      1. Oh I see. The neighborhood view map is for world view shots. Yeah that could be really annoying to keep updating. Any change you made on a lot is going to show and the lots are occupied so you’d have to do something to make the change show up in the unoccupied neighborhood…probably not a sanity making plan.

        The other map, the build map, is something I do too. I’m constantly fiddling with coastlines and elevations and I destroy roads and other things in the process. I use a separate identical map I make Hood Replace, make the changes there and Hood Replace them over. Using that map to work with lots makes sense too. I don’t upload anything so cleaning lots after use is about all I do.

        Using visual tricks is about all you can do to get around the green monster hills.

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  2. Note to self: download those wheat fields!

    Ayre looks wonderful and you have clearly spent a lot of time setting it up and thinking about how to get things just the way you want them. Your efforts have really paid off and I look forward to seeing it all in action!

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  3. Those wheat fields look amazing, don’t they?! And they change with the seasons, which I look forward to seeing. I am also really looking forward to being able to start to play but I estimate it will take me from one to three months to build, first. Although I do plan to make the Royal Steward sooner since he is not a true “playable” family. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  4. This looks awesome!! I really like your neighborhood sky/background, it fits perfectly! Have you adjusted the neighborhood terrain yourself? Be sure to back up, but you could easily smooth out those harsh points. I spent way too much time screwing around with Millwood’s terrain a while back, and I know only I will ever notice! But it’s worth the time if it bothers you.

    For specific points, just select the point (don’t drag) and you’ll have a square. Then press that down. Very handy.

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    1. Thanks for the terrain editing tips. I didn’t know that about the single point. I decided not to use this one because the hills are so close but I thought it was gorgeous from hood view

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