Amanda has been a Simmer (fan of "The Sims" games) since childhood. She still discovers new ways to play and writes to share them.
While The Sims 2 may technically have become outdated due to The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, it is often considered by polls and articles to be the fan-favorite. Creating your very own neighborhood from scratch and watching it become a functioning city is one of the most satisfying features of the game, and neither of its sequels offers quite the same way of playing. But building a custom neighborhood in The Sims 2 can also be one of the most overwhelming and difficult tasks.
The following guide attempts to teach you how to do just this with as little work and as much fun as possible. I hope that these brief summaries are easy to follow!
Planning and Plotting Before You Play
First, before you touch that mouse, what kind of neighborhood do you want? Think about the following:
- House Styles
- Neighborhood Names
From classic country to an island paradise, or the days of yore to a bustling downtown—or maybe you just want a quiet, little suburban neighborhood for your Sims. Then there's the "weird" (or creative, by another name) stuff you can design like modernized fairy tales or a post-apocalyptic land. Of course, some of these may require a strong imagination as your Sims won't actually recognize your theme. It's up to you to create it in your mind's eye through décor and playing the game the way you want it played.
These can be a big factor in how your ultimate 'finished' Sims neighborhood looks. Keeping in mind whether you want a theme, be sure that the style of buildings match it. For example, cottages and castles with moats for princesses and witches. Ranch style houses and barns and cabins if your Sims tend to live off the land in your world. Mansions or trailers or apartments and so on and so on. But even if you've chosen not to theme your custom neighborhood and just let it build and thrive naturally, you may want a little organization—or not. Which leads me to . . .
When I created my Sims 2 custom neighborhood, Moon Island, I allowed any and all style of Sims to populate the area. But as time went on I started to rearrange and play with the lots in such a way that the buildings' locations were logical.
A "trailer park" housed the low-income Sims in the game, small elongated houses grouped together. Along the beachfront sat my mansions. A quiet side street offered room for a mix-and-match setting of Tudors and ranch homes and the occasional Victorian style. My cemetery went off to the side, away from the land of happy families. Parks and beaches were scattered throughout. "Districts" rose up as shops and restaurants were opened near each other.
I know the concept of laws in The Sims 2 (or any Sims game, really) may not make much sense. Your Sims can pretty much do as they please. Giving Sims' laws is another form of exercising imagination in yourself. Grab a notebook or open a digital document (though personally I recommend the notebook as you can keep it in front of you whilst playing). If your Sims are to follow any rules you arbitrarily decide to make up, write them down and stick to them! It's a challenge.
For example, I once created a Sims 2 neighborhood in which there was a rule/theme that no Sim could obtain an official job. They had to earn their money through their own businesses or selling crops or paintings, etc. Maybe your Sims have a curfew. Or are not allowed to wear the color green. Or must not have more than two children (or the opposite: every Sim is required to produce at least one offspring?).
Naming your Sims' neighborhood may be one of the most stressful parts! After all, it's the title you'll see every time you click the game. It represents your style, your effort, your care. No pressure, right? Here are some tips on naming:
- Be sure to capitalize where appropriate.
- Consider your neighborhood's theme, if any. If none, pick yourself a name that allows for change over the years without seeming odd.
- Seek inspiration from the shape of the land you choose to build in.
- Consider names from popular culture or cities in real life that you love and/or want to visit someday.
- If all else fails, use an adjective/noun list combination format for finding a Sims 2 neighborhood name. Write down a bunch of adjectives, such as colors and weather elements and textures and aspects of nature. Follow with a separate list of nouns that you might find in a real town's name: city, town, hills, farms, falls, island, lake, moors, fields, meadow, forest (to name several).
Creating the Neighborhood (Finally)
Of course you need to actually create the new neighborhood.
- So, in the startup launcher click the square full of houses and a plus sign.
- Next, a screen will automatically come up and you can view the different neighborhood layouts available. You’ll be able to change the terrain, so don’t choose based on whether or not the picture shows desert or grass.
- For the terrain part, think about what kind of town you want to have and select something appropriate (example—concrete for a city).
That part was easy, right? In fact, you probably already knew all of it. Now things get trickier. You have to consider the above questions in need of answers and creative thoughts. AKA the design of your Sims' neighborhood.
What to Do Next: Family or Layout?
But at least you have your own Sims 2 neighborhood! There are two ways to do things next: jump right in to playing and create a family, or plan a general layout before things start getting crowded. I highly recommend the second one.
Decide what kind of decorations your town should have and place them. Put down some houses that are pre-built, either by you or the game, so things don’t look so empty and give them actual addresses so that the streets will have unofficial names.
Tip: Create communities within your community by grouping houses by style or price range—it wouldn’t look very realistic to have a shack next to a mansion. Pick out the areas you want your community lots to go in. This will be time consuming, but things will look so nice and organized by the time you get around to playing.
Essential Community Lots
- Graveyard: Though not necessary in the beginning, eventually you’ll want some place to put all those stones and urns (unless you like your houses being haunted...).
- Restaurant: Sims can order groceries over the phone without a grocer actually in the neighborhood, so this isn’t so much for food as it is for socialization. It’s a place that can be used for both dates and family outings.
- Library: Even the poorest families can usually afford a bookshelf, but what about computers? Easels?
- Clothes Store: They can wear the same thing everyday, sure, but how boring is that?
Presumably you have already decided on any themes by the time you start laying out the houses and décor, but think about it some more now. This is your founding family. You really don’t want to get bored with them. Go a step further and take the time to give your Sims bios even!
Tired of seeing a blank neighborhood as the representation of your now-bustling city? Take the picture you wish to use and save it as a .png, preferably with a 4x3 ratio. Name it N0(Number of neighborhood, ex.- 04, and minus the parenthesis)_Neighborhood.png. Then, move it to the neighborhood’s directory.
© 2009 Amanda
erik on May 20, 2012:
Can u have a video in your custom neighbourhood