Getting the basics of routing is one of the most important things you should learn in Create a World. In this guide, you’ll learn why you need to apply it, how to apply it and what mistakes to avoid.

What is Routing?

Did you ever wonder how you can tell your sims to go from Point A to Point B in a game, and they’ll figure out how to get there without you actually having to go through a number of steps to do it? For example, if Bella Goth is sitting in her house and you tell her to go to the beach, you don’t have to keep clicking in multiple spots to get her there. She just goes.

Well, the reason why she is able to do that without you jumping through hoops is routing. Routing is a function of the game that calculates how to get sims to move around in an open world on their own without having to bog players down in multiple clicks.

Want to see what all of this routing looks like under the hood? Great! When you’re in CAW, go to the menu and select “View”, then “Show Routing Data.” You’ll see a large grid of triangles pop up all over your world. This grid is your world’s actual routing–or, “routing data”.

▲ To see what routing looks like in your world, click on “show routing data” under View in CAW.
▲ This is what raw routing data looks like in any world.

When you create a world in CAW for the first time, you may think that you don’t have to worry much about routing at all. You probably figure that it’ll work perfectly out of the box. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you play your world for the first time without taking routing into consideration, you’ll see a lot of weird issues, like sims running up and down steep slopes or through places where they shouldn’t. The reasons why are as follows:

#1-Sims are Lazy

Sims are programmed to be lazy. Whenever you tell them to go from Point A to Point B, their first instinct is to go in the easiest way possible. The easiest way for them to get from place to place is to simply run if they can avoid the stairs. Another easy way of routing for sims is to go the shortest distance, which is a straight line. So, unless you tweak routing, sims will always make all kinds of weird shortcuts.

#2-All Terrain is Routable as a Default

Another reason why routing isn’t perfect out of the box is that by default, every piece of terrain in your world is considered routable, even mountains and hills, even islands that you’ve placed off in the distance.

Island in Pottersville
▲ Even though this is an island separated from the rest of the world by water, sims will try to navigate through it to get from Point A to Point B.

Because all terrain is routable by default, when you play your world or the first time ever, you will see sims doing a lot of annoying and “stupid” things when you start telling them where to go. For example, they may run down mountains and hills, stand in weird places to go fishing and swimming or take detours through the most ridiculous places. The reason why they do this is that the game at this point can’t tell the difference between a hill, flat area, mountain or otherwise. As far as the game is considered, it’s all land.

You can see this problem in the screenshot below. I told this sim to go fishing. Instead of standing in a more natural spot, he decided to stand on the side of a hill.

Why routing paint is necessary
▲ This sim is standing on the side of a hill to fish because by default, the game can’t know which part of a world should be routable and which shouldn’t be.
#3-The Game Can’t Read Your Mind

The last reason why routing isn’t perfect out of the box is that the game can’t know what your intentions are if you decide that you want to have the sims move through your world in a special way. For example, say you want a sim to navigate to a lot, but specifically through a narrow foot path that zig zags up a small hill. Because the game has no idea that you want to do this, sims will run to the lot however way he can (usually in a straight line).

For example, look at the screenshot below. I created a nice curvy road for sims to run or walk on when I tell them to go back and forth to this location. But look what happened when I didn’t lay any routing paint. When I told a sim to go back home, she didn’t use the curvy road. She ignored it and ran up the slope instead. The reason why is that without routing paint, the game can’t know that I only want sims to use that road and not run up and down the hill next to it. It can’t because like I said, the game can’t read your mind for special situations like this.

▲ The sim is running up the hill to go home, because without routing paint, the game doesn’t know that I want her to use the road instead.

This all sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, this is why we have routing paint in Create a World. This special paint is what tells sims, “Don’t run through here or go to this location.” As soon as you paint a part of your world with it, the game learns that it’s off-limits. Later, when you play your world, you won’t run into those silly situations of sims standing on the sides of hills or running over mountains to go from here to there.

How to Place Routing Paint

Placing routing paint couldn’t be easier. You simply use it the way you would terrain paint. You click on the Terrain tab, select Routing and then the brush size and shape. As you paint, you’ll notice that the terrain will turn a bright blue. Don’t worry; this won’t show up in the game and in CAW will disappear as soon as you click off the Routing Tab.

Oh, and don’t worry about making mistakes. You can use “Erase” under the Routing Tab if you make a boo boo.

Routing Do’s and Don’ts

Although technically you should be able to place routing however you want, there are a few things you should be aware of so you don’t create routing issues or lag in your finished world.

  1. Don’t leave gaps in your paint
    This doesn’t seem like much, but leaving gaps in your routing paint will cause lag and severe routing issues. The reason is that as we mentioned earlier, all terrain is routable by default. So, if you leave gaps like this, what will happen is that the game will try to get sims to navigate through the gap if it thinks it’s necessary. Since sims can’t access it, the world will start to lag and freeze, or the sim might complain that he can’t get to his location.

    Don't leave gaps in routing paint or you will suffer lag and routing errors
    ▲ Don’t leave gaps in routing paint or you will suffer lag and routing errors
  2. Don’t surround a lot completely with routing paint
    If you have Late Night, it might make sense to surround a lot on all four sides with routing paint if you want to make the lot only accessible via a train station. However, not all sims travel by subway; sims that own vehicles will skip the train station and want to drive or bike to the location instead. So, guess what happens when you tell sims that own vehicles to go to a lot surrounded with routing paint? They’ll complain that they can’t get to it!I know this sounds like a stupid programming decision, but it makes sense if you think about it. People who already own vehicles don’t normally take taxis or the subway to get to where they’re going. The same logic applies in TS3.

    ▲ Don’t surround a lot to force sims to use it by subway. Sims that have vehicles won’t be able to get to it.
  3. Don’t paint under bridges
    I remember reading years ago people claiming that it was no big deal to paint under bridges. Don’t listen to them! From my personal experience, when you paint under bridges, sims can sometimes get stuck on the footpaths (the sides of the bridge where sims walk instead of using their cars and bikes). The reason why is that the footpath routing can be affected by any paint you place beneath it. So, what eventually happens in-game is that sims will keep getting stuck in a particular spot on a bridge. You may have even seen this annoying issue occur in EA worlds and wanted to tear your hair out over it.  If you don’t want it happening in your world, just be careful not to make this mistake with routing paint.

    ▲ Placing routing paint like this under bridges is a recipe for disaster. Sims that cross bridges on their foot paths will get trapped along the sides.

Where to Place Routing Paint

You probably already have the gist of how routing paint works. However, it might be helpful to get a basic run-down of exactly where it would be best to lay it down.

  1. Really tall hills and mountains
    If there are really tall hills and mountains that you clearly don’t want sims to navigate through or visit, paint them entirely with routing paint.

    This is a hill that I don't want sims to climb, so I have covered it completely in routing paint.
    ▲ A hill that I don’t want sims to climb, so I have covered it completely in routing paint.
  2. Sides of plateaus and hills
    If there are plateaus and hills that you would like sims to go to, paint their sides with routing paint. The reason why is that if you ask them to go from that hill to another part of the world, they might try running down the side of the hill or plateau to get there, even if you have plenty of subway stations and roads nearby.

    This is routing paint around the sides of a hill.
    ▲ Routing paint around the sides of a plateau.
  3. Base of structures that stick out over water
    If you build pier-like structures that stick out over water, depending on how you built your lot, sims will always try to go around the sides when they visit. It doesn’t even matter if you designate which side of the lot you want them to enter from. They will try to navigate anyway. To avoid this very annoying problem, paint the sides of the lot with routing paint.

    The sides of this structure had to be painted with routing paint because otherwise, sims would keep trying to congregate down the sides.
    ▲ The sides of this structure had to be painted with routing paint because otherwise, sims would keep trying to congregate down the sides.
  4. Built in staircases
    When you build a staircase into your world that is supposed to be the only way for a sim to enter a certain location, a similar problem happens as with a pier. Sims, being lazy, will automatically want to skip the staircase and route up and down the sides to get to where they want to go. So, to keep this from happening, place routing paint down the sides.

    ▲ Add routing paint along sides of a built in staircase. Otherwise, sims will avoid it to run down the sides to get to where they want to go.
  5. Heavy brush, wood and rocky areas
    Sims can become trapped in places that have a lot of objects clustered very close together, such as trees, brush and rocks. Even if they don’t get stuck there, you really don’t want sims to route or stand in them, anyway, because they’ll look stupid or awkward when asking them to go fishing and swimming.

    ▲ This sim, when I asked her to fish, decided to stand in the middle of brush. She didn’t get stuck this time but some other sim might. Besides, it looks just plain goofy.

    To keep sims from getting stuck or standing in these spots, just put a little dab of routing paint underneath tall grass, brush, or large clusters of rocks.

  6. Decorative areas
    There are parts of your world that are just there to look nice and aren’t meant for your sims to visit. For example, you may have an island in the middle of a river, a waterfall that you just want to serve as a backdrop or something similar. Mask places like this out with routing paint because trust me–sims, as dumb and lazy as they’re programmed to be, will go there if necessary. For example, the sim below decided to stand in this very awkward place to fish because it was easier to get to than a more natural spot. This place isn’t meant to be used; it’s just a little landscaping I put there so that the bridge would look nicer from a distance!

    ▲ Sims are not supposed to be able to access this part of my world, so some routing paint is needed to block it out.

But Wait! You’re Not Done Yet!

If you’ve applied everything you learned in this guide to your world, you probably think that you’re pretty much ready to export everything. But before you do, know that there is one last important step when it comes to routing.

As you’re building and rebuilding parts of your world or placing objects here and there, sometimes your routing can get a little borked even if you’re doing everything right. A way to avoid this problem is to update your world’s routing data to reflect the changes you’ve made. Although this sounds scary and technical, it couldn’t be any easier to do in CAW. All you do is go to CAW’S menu, choose “View” and then “Rebuild Routing Data.” Wait for about a minute or two (or until you can move the cursor again, which will freeze as CAW works its magic) and voila!–you’re done!

Remember to do this every time you make huge changes to your world, especially if you were doing a lot of erasing and repainting of routing paint. This is to make sure that your world’s routing data is always up to date.

As Easy as 1-2-3

Laying down routing paint in Create a World may seem like a very intimidating process because of how technical it is. However, as you can see, it’s a very straightforward process. All it takes is painting out parts of the world where you don’t want your sims to go or to navigate through.