Full-time psychology student and part-time Sims addict. Fell in love with "The Sims" in 2002 and never really stopped loving it.
The Sims 1 is an all-time classic. Released over 20 years ago, it is still a fun and addicting game to play today. However, it can be a bit tricky to install on a modern computer.
This difficulty is for several reasons. First of all, you have no hope of installing from your old game disks on Windows 10, as the DRM used for The Sims 1 is not compatible with modern operating systems. Because of this, the disks are rendered unreadable.
This is easily bypassed by using a digital download, but that opens more cans of worms. One must be careful to obtain the files from a safe site, as any form of online downloading carries risks if you're careless about your sources. You don't need to worry about piracy though as the game is so old that it is classed as abandonware – software no longer protected or maintained by its creators. I personally used and recommend Old Games Download for my game files.
However, downloading is just the start of things. This guide will show you how to get your game running as smoothly as possible on a modern system.
Finding Your Game's Install Directory
First of all, you will need to find where your game is installed. This is usually within your Program Files folder, unless you use a custom install location. If you can see a file called Sims.exe, you know you're on the right track.
If you're stumped for the location, here is how to find it:
- Right click on the shortcut for the game on your desktop or search bar.
- Once you've right clicked on the shortcut, select Open File Location on the popup menu. This will open the shortcut file in a folder.
- Right click the shortcut inside the folder, select Open File Location, and you should be taken right to the install directory.
Patching Your .exe File
As you can't use the game disks anymore, you need to use a patched .exe file so that your game can run without a disk. Some downloads will include the patched file in the download, however if it is not included you will need to download a new one. I will advise you not to use any included .exe yet though unless you are technically skilled, as there is more that needs to be done with that file to ensure a smoother playing experience.
As with any unofficial patch, it is advised to back up the original .exe file beforehand. You can do this by renaming the file. Keep the name itself the same, but add .old after the end of .exe in the full file name.
When backed up, you should have 2 files in the install directory: Sims.exe (patched) and Sims.exe.old (original)
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Playing in Widescreen
The patched .exe alone will get your game running, but not comfortably. A glaring issue is the game's built-in resolution, made for older CRT monitors with square displays. This will inevitably look blurry and ugly on a newer monitor, with a lot of empty space on your screen.
To fix this, you must obtain a patched no-CD .exe file and edit a specific line of code inside the .exe using a hex editor. Instructions as to how to do this are here if you feel up to doing it manually, however there is a simpler way for you to use this fix.
The manual fix is a bit long winded and takes actual effort, but thankfully modders have made this easy work by creating an unofficial 1080p patch. I have used this to patch my own game and it works a treat!
Don't stop reading here though, as there is still more you need to do.
Fixing the User Interface
Although the above fix will get your game running in 1080p, the game's UI won't adjust to this change in resolution. This is because the UI is not configured through the .exe file, but through a folder within the game's file directory. Without fixing this, the UI will be glitchy as you can see in the above image.
The above download for the 1080p patch also contains a folder called UIGraphics. You should drag this into your "The Sims Complete Collection" folder in your Program Files (or wherever you installed your game). Don't delete anything, just add the patched files to the existing folder.
This is not a perfect fix, as there are a couple of graphical issues which seem to be unfixable. The neighbourhood screen is still very small, and zooming out to the maximum distance in-game will cause an interesting visual glitch. If you see these, your fix is not broken; these are just limitations to playing an old game on a modern computer.
Time to Play the Game!
Now you've done all this work, it's finally time to play The Sims 1! If you've done it all correctly, you should have a game which runs smoothly and is pleasant to look at.
If you're still having issues, running the game in Windows XP compatibility mode should help. Otherwise, your game should work as good as it would back in 2003 if you've followed this guide correctly. Even better actually, as the power of modern computers means that long loading times and lag on larger lots are a thing of the past!