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The News of 2003
Introduction
2003 Has nearly passed by, just a few hours are left. With over 460 news posts written in this year, it's time to look back on the year that's passed. It's the year of The Sims on the console, Bustin' Out, but also the new expansions: Superstar and Makin' Magic. Another highlight was the announcement, and the whole load of informaiton about The Sims 2, with the Sims 2 University as (personal) highlight. This article is a look-back on the news of the past year, so you know what's happened in 2003. Click the month's names to see the news archive page of that month. Enjoy it!
The year started well, with the news that late 2002 Aspyr had released Unleashed for the Macintosh. It was only a day later that we posted the first poll of the new year, but we also achieved a new milestone: We've had over 1,000,000 (that's 1 Million!) unique visitors in just a bit less than a year. That same day, The Sims for the GameCube and X-Box was announced, and would be released later that quarter. There were also some rumours of Superstar, which was then still unannounced, but would be the new expansion pack. It proved to be true later. 7 January, IGN had published a list of the 100 most wanted video games. The Sims Online made it to the 20th place, SimCity 4 even reached number 4. Several other expansion packs for the Sims also made the list. Another 2 days later, it looked like perhaps Superstar would be fake after all. There was also news that there would probably not a single expansion for the Linux Edition of The Sims. The Sims for the PS2 was also released, and the first reviews appeared quickly. Besides that, we'd posted reviews as well, for Deluxe and Unleashed. Then came a time of mostly reviews of several games, and regular news like poll changes and a few SimDays. Although already rumoured, and considered realistic, Maxis officially announced The Sims for the GameCube and X-Box near the end of the month, with the first 2 screenshots. The month was closed with the news if Superstar was real or not. It was a very vague rumour at the time, with contradicting statements about it.
February started with quite some regular articles: some new donation files, reviews (with bad spelling), screenshots, a new poll and downloads. We also caught some sites stealing bandwidth by hotlinking to files. This resulted in a news post, as a general warning. After many rumours, Superstar was finally confirmed and officially announced. We also got the news that TSO was delayed in Europe because it wasn't doing too great. By now, it still hasn't been released, and it looks like it never will be. We had an interview with members of the team as well, but since the questions were submitted before the news that it was doing bad, there was nothing about that in it. Late February we announced some major changes at TSZ, including changing the design to the current one. We added a few features like searching several archives. Since then, we've also used the (faster) PHP instead of ASP. After another preview of The Sims on the X-Box, the shortest month of the year had ended.
For TSZ, work continued in the background. However, the site was offline for nearly 2 weeks to make the changes announced in February. Because of that, a news update was written to get up-to-date with the news again. Within the first 5 days, several problems were found after TSZ had gone live. Several bugs were fixed, and TNHH 4.01 was released. The month was relatively quiet, with a lot of the regular items (new files, reviews, simdays, polls, etc.). A quite extroardinary article was found too, which discussed on how to kill Sims. The Sims on the GameCube and X-Box also went gold and released. This month ended with with several reviews of the game.
April 1st - April Fool's day. TSZ had some fun, and posted the (fake) news about a virus in TSO, as April Fool's prank. Maxis also did something that thursday - SimDay - and told us about a "The Sims PC Game Reviewer". Nearly 2 weeks later - the rest of time again didn't have much interesting - there was news about a 14 day trial of TSO at FilePlanet, and that Superstar wouldn't be the last expansion of The Sims. It was soon that some more news appeared. I also announced The Add-on Handler, which would be the utility to manage your downloads. Finally, after a relatively quiet month, I also released it.
After many rumours earlier this year, an announcement and many screenshots, Superstar finally went gold to be released 2 weeks later. But as every year, May is the news of the E3. The biggest game Expo in the world - which means a lot of news. Just a week before that event, Maxis announced a much-anticipated game: The Sims 2, with some screens. But besides that, they also announced Bustin' Out, which was first thought to be just an expansion pack instead of completely new game. The Add-on Handler 0.1.1b was released as well, to fix some bugs, quickly followed by version 0.1.2b. The E3 started, and besides many previews from the big gaming sites, there was also the news that The Sims would also be released for the GBA. Besides upgrading the search features at TSZ, we also posted our 1000th news post. And that happened - by coincidence - exactly at the day TSZ in its current form existed 1.5 years. This was quickly followed by a news overview of those 1000 posts, in 18 months. Will Wright also gave an interview about the upcoming Sim games at GameSpy. Besides the ton of info we received, he also seemed to confirm a new project, rumoured in 2002 as SimUniverse. An unnoticed error in the database also caused our members database to be flushed losing 2 months of member registrations. Better news was that The Sims 2 was the best simulation game at the E3. This month ended quite interesting as well, with the first rumours of a seventh expansion pack: SpellBound.
New month, new news. But with the summer coming close, the amount of real special news was getting less. 4 June was the first bit that was different than the rest: Yahoo reported that Wright was going to make a TV Show. I released The Neighborhood Handler 4.10 and The Add-on Handler 0.2.0b. There also was more news about Spellbound, now known as Makin' Magic. More confirmation came in a review of Superstar. 27 June, the Make-A-Celeb tool was finished by Maxis, and so we can end this month.
EA started off July, with the official announcement of Bustin' Out for GBA. An interview about it was posted a day later, as well as some screenshots. The official site celebrated the posting of the 100,000th album. We also received the new name for Spellbound: Makin' Magic. A new Sim Clone was also in the make, and we reported about it just once: Singles. A game that doesn't seem to become a great success now. We posted our review of Superstar, moved servers and posted possible box shots of Makin' Magic. The first words of The Sims Double Deluxe were also posted. Finally, Makin' Magic was finally confirmed.
After 2 quick news posts in the very early morning of 1 August, I posted I would be taking a break for a month, to go on holiday, and work a bit in the background. It was Summer, and there wasn't too much interesting news going on in the world of the Sims. But, while working in the background, Andy also announced the third series of Sim Brother. New contestants, a new house, and new storylines would develop in about 50 days, starting at 16 August. For a couple of days, the news only consisted of Sim Brother reports, as there wasn't much else to talk about. Maxis announced Double Deluxe, with the news that this time the extras would be available as free download. Similar to what the year started with, Aspyr announced the Mac version of Superstar. Because some news was missed in August, there was another newsround at the end of the month, the first day of my return. This consisted mainly of previews, screenshots and other "regular" news. The most interesting in that newsround was that - unlike stated before then - Unleashed wouldn't be included in Double Deluxe.
The ninth month of 2003 started with Sim Brother, but also a new 12-minute(!) Sims 2 Video, with a lot of in-game footage. 12 September was when Maxis released the preliminary System requirements of The Sims 2. Those would in the end be the same as the ones released finally. EA also released news about Bustin' Out on the PS2 going online. The Sims Double Deluxe shipped, and we created RSS feeds for The Sims Zone, so you can more easily track the news of The Sims. Finally, there were some new shots of Makin' Magic and a clip of Bustin' Out.
3 October: the announcement of an improved version of TSO. A few days later, Makin' Magic, the expansion we'd heard a lot of before, went gold. Sim Brother III ended, with Ruud van Nistelrooy as the big winner. Later that month, Maxis opened up an official site of The Sims 2. The box of Bustin' Out was also published, just like Makin' Magic which was released towards the end of the month. That's how October, probably the month of Makin' Magic and a lot of news of The Sims 2 and Bustin' Out, stopped, and time went on...
Bustin' Out info, and Sims 2 details made the start of November. I was also quietly preparing myself for a trip to San Francisco, which I announced 10 November. The definite system specification were published by Maxis. One day later I went on my trip to The Sims 2 University. On Friday the 14th, but already the 15th in the UK, I posted the first article from The Sims 2 University, followed a day later by an article about the Build mode. It was The Sims Zone's birthday, and that week and the week after I would post an article about The Sims 2, with a lot of new info from The Sims 2 University, nearly every day. The first part was posted 18 November, the day after I got back home. Other sites also posted about TS2U, with a lot of info. This - for me - great month ended with a screenshot of a neighborhood in The Sims 2.
The last month, and the current month, of 2003. It's nearly ended. I finished off with posting the final part of the The Sims 2 University special. Bustin' Out on the GBA was released, and the release of CaSIE was put back. Many people were upset with that, so we gave it some more attention with a quote from Maxis with the reason why it was delayed. By now, CaSIE still hasn't been released to anybody. We posted all the downloads of Sim Brother III at once, and I'd finally finished updated versions of my Handlers, now compatible with Makin' Magic. Bustin' Out went gold on the PS2, GameCube and X-Box, and The Sims Zone posted the 100th poll in just over 2 years time. Bustin' Out on the GBA was released in Europe, and there was a lot of news. The final Deisgner's Diary of Bustin' Out was posted at GameSpot, and the same day the game was released. Christmas came, and The Sims Zone published a complete Career Index of the careers in The Sims, and review indexes of Makin' Magic and Bustin' Out. We also shuffled a bit in our affiliates. The month, and this year, ended with the cheats for Bustin' Out, which still many people are having trouble with. And of course there was this round up, just in time for the end of the year. The next year will come with a lot of news again, and The Sims Zone will be your source to find out about everything about The Sims. Happy new year!
Written at 22:39 on Wednesday 31 December 2003 by ChEeTaH.

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