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The Sims - What Not To Do And Why Not To Do It
There are some things that you definitely shouldn't do in life. Like watching an american TV programme entitled 'The Planet's Funniest Animals' and actually finding something funny in it. Like voting Labour and actually believing anything they say. Like watching Big Brother.

In The Sims, there is one thing you should never do which is the root of all evil and you should never invoke it. The "move_objects on" cheat. Well okay, it's not as bad as I've made it out to be but it usually is the root of all kinds of major problems in your game if you do something you shouldn't.

The "move_objects on" cheat basically unlocks everything. If it's on the lot, you can select it. And delete it. The cheat is useful in those situations where you've got traffic jams in the bathroom (and for getting rid of El Bandito and the skunk), but there are some things you must never delete; you will see why later and what happens if you do.

The Portals

The squares marked in yellow are your pedestrian portals. Unless you want to live in a friendless world, leave these alone.

There are three things you must take care not to delete when using move_objects: The portals, the trashcan and the mailbox.

There are usually four separate portals on any one lot: Two pedestrian portals (four if you're building on a corner), a car portal and a telephone portal. The pedestrian portals live either side of the lot on the far pavement. Removing these will kill all your services and all your friends. But if you have no friends you won't get very far in any career.

The car portal, lives in the road. Unless there's something else in the way, the cars will usually arrive with their left wheel on the portal. Obviously, dumping this will soon dump you from your job.

The telephone portal. For telephones, obviously. Again, leave this alone unless you want non functioning telephones which will also kill your friends and block your career. Yes.
Spot The Mistake

There are two things wrong with this picture: Mailbox obstruction and garbage can obstruction.

There are two things wrong with this picture:

  • Mailbox obstruction. Nobody can get into it and nobody can get stuff out out of it. It matters not that the mailbox is facing what is by default the wrong way, more rather that there's a pink flamingo in front of it.
  • Trash can obstruction. The trash can is also blocked by a pink flamingo. The genie in Livin Large doesn't help matters because when he gives you some flamingos for your lawn they will almost always block the trashcan.

Servo cannot put anything in the bin. He is thus forced to drop it on the floor where he'll pick it up again and keep trying to bin it. Shifting the offending flamingo allows Servo to justify why we paid $15k for him.

Let's also look again at the mailbox. Send a Sim to get the mail. This happens:

Jonathan can't collect the bills for his father because of the flamingo in the way.

Carrie the mail carrier hangs around on the portal but doesn't give you any mail. She'll eventually disappear. I did not leave the game running long enough to see whehter the bills she was supposed to deliver were still valid.

Removing The Trashcan And Mailbox
Now let's examine what happens when we dump the mailbox and the trashcan from our lot. You'll see now that the mailbox is more than just a venue for paying and receiving bills.

Deleting both the trash can and the mailbox opens up a whole new can of worms for the sims such as nothing happening.

In the above screengrab, we've thrown a party and invited a few people, it turns out that only two of them have turned up (standing on the portals) and there's no sign of the caterer either. So if we shift people out of the way, there's our party people and there's our caterer. The only problem is, we can't interact with any of these people. We can try to dismiss the caterer but the action falls out of the queue immediately.

Meanwhile, no external trash can sees the garbage piling up on the inside. Servo doesn't know what to do with it, compulsively emptying it, dumping it on the floor, putting it in the bin, emptying it, dumping it again, etc. The maid does the same thing only she disappears at 5pm. Servo flat out refused to do anything else other than repair, clean the toilets and make the beds. He would not pick up the dirty dishes, clean the showers or kill the roaches. He did however mop up water.

No mailbox means that Nancy is lost and just dumps the paper on the side of the lot.

The next day, the caterer is still hanging around like a bad smell on the edge of the lot (everybody else disappeared of their own accord). Nancy the newspaper girl can't be bothered now to do her job properly so dumps the newspaper and the studio town pamphlet on the edge of the lot.

Betty Newbie is stuck on the portal. We cannot communicate with her. Bob, however, can.

We do more testing. we give Bob Newbie a call and invite him over to see what would happen. Bob offers to bring a friend; so along comes Betty Newbie. Betty is stuck on the portal top right for ages but eventually wanders down. We can talk to Bob and interact and whatever but we can't do anything with Betty. Can't even tell her to shove off either.

Every NPC we could grab got stuck on the portals as well and had no idea where the house was!

We decide to call every NPC we could to see what they'd do without a mailbox. The policelady, firefighter, pizza guy and the social worker all stood on the left most portal and didn't move, so we shifted them. The repairman did the same thing on the other portal and disappeared but after we broke something he came back and fixed it (at a cost of $450, boo). The butler from Superstar worked flawlessly, as did a third-party one.

Suddenly, at 6:30am Sim Time, all these characters exploded into life. We got the $100 fine from the firefighter, the warning from the policelady, the pizza from the pizza chap and the social worker did her job :) The caterer though still refused to do anything. When the maid turned up at 10am she also worked flawlessly (although then fell into the same situation with the garbage as Servo did, above). The gardener had no issues.

In Conclusion...
While this charade was going on, other things were happening, such as:
  • The carpool not turning up. The school bus turned up but not the carpool.
  • My kid sims also lost all interest in doing much in the way of Free Will and by the end of the experiment were all deep red in the Fun motive, getting red in the Social Motive and became really depressed. I had to tell them to do everything as it was like they were suffering from amnesia.
  • My adult sim then decided not to shower without my permission and insisted on eating these Mystery Treats available from another Sims website. He then lost his job and because of the state of the house (and free will was erratic), he was too depressed to find another job.
  • Using a cheat, I had a baby. I deliberately neglected it (it's cruel, I know) to see what would happen in a no mailbox sitation. Interestingly enough, the game was somewhat slow to grasp the fact that I was neglecting baby. Normally you get a warning after 60 sim minutes and then bye bye baby sixty minutes after that. I was able to leave the baby screaming for 90 mins before the warning and then another three hours after that before Social Security turned up.

These are just some of the strange things that you may experience on your game when you remove the mailbox. You may experience other problems or issues in your game but one thing's for sure: It will never be the same again. You have been warned.

Written at 01:55 2004n Thursday 29 July 2004 by Neil.

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