Just some helpful tips, tricks and helpful advice for beginners to the Sims 3 Create a World Tool.

Read the Manual First

Before you even so much as contemplate building your first world, read the official manual that comes with CAW. (To access it, click “F1” to bring it up in CAW or go to File–>About–>Help). Read it, learn it, memorize it, then practice what you’ve learned before moving onto more advanced techniques. But whatever you do, don’t be a hero trying to learn CAW starting with the most advanced tutorials out on the web; this is like trying to learn a foreign language by learning the hardest words first.

For Your First World, Build Small

If you’re building your first world ever, do not get ambitious. Start with a small world. The reason why is that as a newbie, you’ll be making tons of mistakes. If you start out in CAW with a big, sprawling city with a zillion lots, streets, buildings and bridges, it will take you forever to troubleshoot and fix all the routing issues and mistakes you have made. This problem is the reason why it took me several years to finally complete each one of my worlds. They took me about six months to build but then I had to spend the better part of a year tracking down errors and building parts of my worlds to fix them.

So, I repeat, don’t go overboard. Keep things simple. When you gain more experience, build as large as you want but in the beginning, start small.

Don’t Get Too Creative, Either

When you build for the very first time, you may want to go crazy and start building elaborate structures like piers, built-in staircases, waterfalls, etc. When you become more experienced as a world builder, it’s okay to be creative but as a beginner, stick to the basics–lots, hills, roads and trees. Elaborate stuff like this will only cause trouble down the road when you first start playing this world, and you’ll become so demoralized you’ll quit.

If You Plan to Share, Ease Up on the Custom  Content

This almost seems like a no brainer but bears repeating anyway. If you plan to share your world with other players at The Sims 3 Exchange, minimize your usage of CC. The reason why is that you don’t want people having to hop from place to place chasing down a bunch of files at various places just to play your world. Also, some players are very averse to CC and will avoid your world like the plague if it has any. Since you want your world to be enjoyed by as many players as possible, it’s best to leave out CC content.

Play Test Early, and Often

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is decide not to play their world until it’s finished. They want to make sure every tree, rock, house and street lamp is in place before they play, so they can feel the rush and excitement of playing their completed world for the first time.

This is all nice and good, but there’s a problem. Worlds are so intricate that if you make a lot of mistakes as you build (and you will–believe me!), guess what happens when you finally play your world? You will find so many glitches and errors, you will have to go back and tear out and rebuild entire sections of road, forest and neighborhoods to fix everything. To make matters worse, some of those issues will be buried so deep it’ll take you forever to track them down.

Not only is going back into your world to fix errors like this a frustrating, grueling process, it can be very heartbreaking, too. It’s like a huge set back. Here you were admiring how amazing your world turned out, thinking you had months of game play ahead. Come to find out, now you have to spend the next several weeks–and in the worst case scenario, months–taking out and rebuilding parts of your world or go through it with a fine-toothed comb trying to figure out why your routing keeps breaking or sims keep running over large hills to go from Point A to Point B.

If you play test your world at every phase, you can discover and fix problems as they come up instead of accidentally incorporating them into your world and having to deal with this type of headache later. My rule of thumb in terms of play testing is to play test whenever you’ve placed a major milestone, such as 1) laying out all your roads and lots 2) completing rabbit holes 3) special lots (like beaches or places along the shore where you intend your sims to swim and fish).

Always Backup and Re-Backup Regularly

Right from the beginning, you should be making backup copies of any worlds that you’re working on to an external drive. If you don’t, you’re courting disaster. If your hard drive dies or something goes wrong with your world, guess what happens if you don’t have a backup copy ready? All of that time and effort you spent on your world will have gone up in smoke.

So how and what do you backup? If all you’re working on is one world, there are only three files you should be worried about. Under your Documents/Electronic Art/The Sims/Create a World/UserToolData folder, you will see a \Worlds folder. Inside this folder you will find all the files for the worlds you have created. Each world has a folder and two accompanying files–the .settings and .world file. For example, if your world is called Oakland, you will see a folder marked “Oakland” and an Oakland.settings and Oakland.world file. Copy all three and keep them safe. If there are backup copies of your world as well inside the \Worlds folder (CAW creates them automatically), copy those as well.

Once you’ve backed up your world, make a habit of re-backing it up on a regular basis. Usually, re-backup when you’ve made a lot of progress on your world. Also,¬†don’t save your world unless you’re 100% sure that it’s functional and glitch-free. Otherwise, you might accidentally back up a glitched world, which defeats the purpose of backing up in the first place.

Don’t Have Things Running While Saving in Edit in Game

Edit in Game is a feature of Create a World that allows you to load, edit and save lots in your world in a stripped down version of the game. When your world gets very large, saving in EIG can be a very memory intensive process. If you have a low spec machine, it’s very important that you free up as much memory as possible as you’re saving. This means closing out other programs. Otherwise, EIG will always run out of memory, and you’ll either never be able to complete a save or will have a world with corrupted lots that will cause tons of errors and routing issues.

Don’t Save Your World in Edit in Game Just To Save Edited Lots

In EIG, you can build and edits lots like you would in-game. However, do not save your world just to save the work you’ve done on your lots. Build and save your lots to library whenever you’re working on them. When most of your lots are pretty much finished, place them in your world in EIG (in small batches at a time), then save your world.

Why? The more stuff you add to your world, the longer the saves are in EIG. It doesn’t make sense to spend 10-15 minutes at a time just to save a major change you’ve made to one little lot. Besides, the more times you save in EIG, the higher the risk of a crash, which may wind up corrupting your world (which is the last thing we want!).

Save in Batches in EIG

If you plan to add lots and sims to your world in EIG, place and save them in batches. In other words, if you plan to add, say, 15 families to your world, add and save 8 the first time, then the remaining 7 the next. Don’t add and save all 15 at the same time or you might run out of memory and crash.

Save in EIG as Few Times as Possible

You can save as many times as you’d like in CAW without any issues. However, I find that the more you save your world in EIG, the greater risk of getting a crash, which can sometimes cause lots to become corrupted and your world unable to open at all in CAW. Even if you successfully export your world and it’s playable, corruption might cause the routing on your lots to break. So, save your world in CAW as few times as possible. Don’t go overboard and keep saving your world every two seconds. Only save when absolutely necessary, like when you are ready to add lots or sims to your world.