Just imagine for a second... Close your eyes and imagine a world where you have to struggle to put each creation in-game. Imagine there are no tutorials, hardly any tools, and everything possible is done by sheer hard work poring over hex editors in the small hours, hand coding file formats and making the game explode at the slightest change. Welcome to the beginning of Sims 2 modding as we know it, and the foundation of MTS2.
Take a moment to imagine that world and then fast forward 3 years to where we stand today. The Sims 2 community contains millions of players, thousands of creators, hundreds of sites, and dozens of tools, all of them striving forward to produce works that the average player adores and uses everyday in their games to make stories, movies and enter contests, or to simply have fun.
Since that time, early in 2004, we've seen some great creations and some amazing talent from people and groups alike. We continue to push forward the frontier of modding every day, and it is through the tireless work of people in the freely sharing information in the Create section here that we break boundaries and produce things that were previously thought impossible.
It is through the works of a few that this community grows. Quaxi, of SimPE fame, is perhaps the most important of these, since - outside of Homecrafter and pure BodyShop recolours - I don't think there is a single creator out there that has not used his program to import things into the game. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karybdis and the DatGen people who worked out a lot of the file formats that where later incorporated into tools and plugins. Next, we have Miche and myself, with the very first program ever made to create content with new meshes, utilizing the MeshTool. Following on from that work is wes_h, who maintains the Unimesh plugins for Milkshape, and Skankyboy for his work on the SimPE import routines. Lastly we have the CEP Project, founded by RGiles, Quaxi again and Numenor, whose work is legendary in the entire community, and other creators - V1ND1CARE and her amazing lots, Echo (who is just all round awesome), Boblishman, HystericalParoxysm, J.M. Pescado, Twojeffs, Squinge, Atavera, JWoods, Racquelcaesar, Enayla's wonderful skins, MikeInside's tutorials, and Eric's InSIMenator, to mention a few - who provide excellent work that many others look up to and are applauded community-wide.
Projects such as MidSimmer, SimStones, the Grand Trianon Project, Retroville - these would not have been possible but for the efforts of a community brought together and working for the benefit of all, and to challenge the limits of what we know. I would like to thank LyricLee for her efforts in running successful teams, and Lethe_s for tackling one of the most popular: the Harry Potter Project.
All of these projects, every creator, every person who wants to create - none of it is possible without tutorials. Simple or detailed, from full blown PDF documents to small snippets - everything is available to the person who is willing to learn, and all of it is maintained by hard working and dedicated people who take time out from their busy lives to help others. Tiggerypum, Numenor, Dr. Pixel, HystericalParoxysm, IgnorantBliss, J.Woods - all of these people deserve your thanks, and your praise for the work they have done in helping us all to understand the intricacies of the game that we all love. There are many other people and tools that I could mention, but this community is huge, and my apologies if I have left anybody out.
In the Game Help section, we have people like Simsample, Angel F, Cokenasmile and Daysies (among others), who dedicate time to writing tutorials and providing help on fixing the game when things go wrong. Clearly-written tutorials and FAQs are a staple here, and MTS2 is often one of the first sites to identify problems with the game; witness the various Pets EP bugs and the documentation that we built up to provide help on these issues and then sent to Maxis themselves. This site is huge, and many people spend their time day by day to provide services to others, enhancing the game as a whole.
Above everything else is the desire to expand the community - to break barriers - to do things that no simmer has done before. And it's all built on a framework of helping each other out, with absolutely nothing to gain except for the occasional thanks and the pleasure of seeing somebody finally "get it". We have had people who started out on MTS2 with absolutely no creation ability whatsoever, but they have toiled through the tutorials in our Create section and have risen to produce some outstanding work and gone on to become Featured Creators here. I applaud you all.
The thing to remember about all this - about all the people that I have mentioned, about all the tools that you as creators use, and all the help that downloaders get - is that it's all available completely free. All of the sites that had provided critical breakthroughs in the game (MATY and Insim come to mind) - they are all available entirely for free.
The free sharing of information is key to our ever expanding community, and because of that spirit, modders can break the next big challenge, whether it is to write a better tutorial, to re-organise entire help sections so they are easier to use, to write a hack that removes an annoyance, make an object with new interactions, or a house that breaks all the previous landscaping rules.
MTS2 has lots going on in any given day, as do other sites in the community, but the pervading spirit is of the community as a whole and we are all here - whether you are a site owner, a creator, or a downloader - because of free sites and the work that people I have mentioned have put into them, day after day.
However, not everybody is cut out to be a modder, and not everybody has the patience to go through the great tutorials on offer - I myself have the meshing ability of a small badger, for example - but we give people the chance to really try to see if it's something they want to do; and they can then take the 3d meshing skills that they learn and make a living through selling them legally on sites like TurboSquid or Renderosity. We teach people how to do things well using all the available tools at their disposal, but as a Sims 2 gaming community, and as one of the founding sites within that community, MTS2 is all about free content, free tutorials and free help.
Lately we have seen more and more sites convert to pay only, and while they in themselves may contain some great content, I firmly believe that this community needs to go on as it started - entirely free. The hairs at PeggySims and RoseSims, the Featured Artists at TSR, all the pay content that has ever been made has been made upon the back of a free community and there are always high-quality free alternatives. There are other ways to finance any site hosting costs through ad revenue, affiliate schemes, donations, and funding drives. It is a testament to Quaxi that there is not a single donation link on his SimPE site - and all other tools are produced and distributed entirely for free.
As a site MTS2 has strived to increase the quality of items through stringent moderation, Creator Guidelines for all to read, and through the excellent tutorials and advice that we have to offer. We are, and will always be, FREE. Using the funding schemes mentioned previously, we have become one of the largest sites, and we can - all of us - help others and keep growing. We as a community enable empowerment of the people, and supporting free content is something that benefits the millions of players around the world.
Plans for the future
In 2007, MTS2 aims to "go back to it's roots", and make it the Year of the Creator: revamped tutorials, easier to use sections, enhanced uploading options, better searching options and more. We as a site and everybody as a community should always work to produce the best the community has to offer through individual greatness or collaborative projects.
Remember that no matter how cool something might seem, no matter how much pay content other people use for contests, the backbone of this community is based upon sharing. By using and supporting MTS2 and other free sites in the community you are validating all the hard work from people whose goal it is to keep this community growing with amazing content and - above all - entirely for free.
For those of you who don't want to read all that, here's the short version:
Free sites give you:
- Game help FAQs
- Custom content help FAQs
- Projects (Simstones, Poser Initiative, etc)
- Lots and Housing
- Hacks and new objects
- Clothing and skintones, etc
- Hair, bodyshop meshes
- Artistic karma
- Warm fuzzy feelings
Paysites give you:
- Lots and Housing
- Hacks and new objects
- Clothing and skintones, etc
- Hair, bodyshop meshes
Which would you rather support?
This entire mission statement was not meant to guilt people into giving money. Instead, it is meant as a part-history lesson, part-wakeup call for those of you who did not know how this community - this site - came to be, and all the effort put into it from the start. I thank all of you who have donated, but this rallying call is for all of you - those who can donate and those who can't - to realise where we are going and the cost it's taken to get there. Spread the word. Spread the message - to all.
Create it. Share it. Play it.
Thanks to those who helped me write this:
And to all content creators who support a free Sims 2 community!