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Building on a Budget!

I have just submitted my fourth lot, Vista Del Mar.  This is the largest home I’ve built, and as in real life, it was a challenge to keep it within “budget”. 

In real life, you are limited by the amount of money available for construction.  You must make trade-offs between what you really want and what you can afford.  Do you really need that fifth bedroom?  Can you live without the pool house and gym?  And, you must spend your decorating dollar wisely, splurging only on those furnishings that will have the greatest impact on your design. 

The same is true in building Sims 3 houses for TSR, except that instead of money, you are budgeting file size.  You must stay within TSR’s 50MB upload limit.  Unless you are planning to submit your lot unfurnished, you have to limit the size of your home to what you can afford to furnish, so the choices you must make are very much like those you make in real life.  Do you really want to spend your precious MBs building the pool house or on decorating your home? 

To stay within your 50MB budget, you must limit your MB “spending” to the choices that will best achieve the overall look you want.  In choosing furnishings, you need to consider that custom content takes up much more file space than EA’s in-game items and that the MB “cost” of similar custom objects (two beds, for example) may vary widely.  Also, subsequent copies of an object cost less than the first copy so using multiple copies of the same object can actually be more cost effective than individual copies of different objects.  (Obviously, I haven’t tested this on every item but it generally seems to work that way). And, finally, the size of the file is not necessarily based on the size of the object.  Often, files for relatively small, highly detailed objects that offer many variations, such as pictures and rugs, may actually be larger than files for much bigger objects, such as beds and sofas (thanks to AnoeskaB for this particular insight).   

Monitoring your lot’s file size and the impact of your various construction and decorating choices is not as easy as it sounds.  However, the last thing you want to do is to wait until you finish your perfect house to discover that you are way, way over budget (like 90MB!!).  So, periodically during the building and furnishing process, you will have to check your lot’s file size.  The only way I’ve found to do this is to export (i.e., share) the lot and then go to your export folder and check the size of the file.  How often you need to do this depends on what you’re building and how close you are to the 50MB limit.  You also need to know the size of the files for custom content objects to decide which is the best “investment”.   Again, the only way I know to do this is to download the objects and then go to your download folder and check each object’s file size.  You can assume that any EA in-game item has a smaller file size than a similar custom content item, but, as far as I know, the only way to determine its actual file size is to check the overall lot export file size, first without, then with the item.

 While time-consuming, this process wouldn’t be such a bother if it weren’t for EA’s temperamental programming, which “stops responding” at the drop of a hat.  It thoroughly dislikes it when you move back and forth between windows, i.e. the game and your export or download folders in Windows Explorer.  Too many trips and it’s likely to just quit on you.  Of course, you could check file size via the game launcher.  The Upload tab will list the file size for exported lots and the Download tab will show the file size for the custom content you’ve downloaded.  But, I’ve found that switching between the active game and the game launcher takes longer and is more likely to end in disaster than moving between the game and Windows Explorer (at least it does on my computer).  Whichever way you do it, take it from someone who has learned the hard way—save, save, save, and save again!


Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I am sure this is nothing new to the experienced builders out there but I hope it helps another novice like me.   Maybe staying within budget will become more intuitive with experience.  I hope so.  But, if anyone out there knows an easier way to build large, fully furnished houses within the 50MB budget, I would love to hear from you!

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#1mightyfaithgirlDec 2, 2014

Great Blog Tina. Hence why Most of my lots come Unfurnished ( except for the basics you would find in real life houses.. kitchens.. bathrooms.. laundry room..) Otherwise my file sizes are crazy big.. due to the CC i use. ( as we both know most EA stuff is.. meh.) When I start landscaping .. well then that takes up file size too.

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