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***UPDATED AUGUST 2011***
The Sims 3, the latest in the 'Sims' series of life simulator games from EA Games, was released in June 2009. It was disappointing upon release as it was notably lacking in basic content such as hair, clothing and household objects which even The Sims 2 base game had more of. The place to turn to find solutions for these dilemmas is, as always, the large number of Sims custom content sites.
In its unmodded straight-out-of-the box form, it was much harder to create a Sim that looked how you wanted it to look than in The Sims 2. The applet 'Bodyshop' which came with The Sims 2 and let you create your own hair, accessories and clothing, no longer exists in The Sims 3. There was also no way to make new objects such as furniture, decorative objects, cars and so on.
However, now that the game has been out for some time and a few expansion packs have also come along, expert modders have created a fantastic array of tools that enable custom content creators to make just about anything you could want for your Sims 3 game. Here are some good places for Sims 3 custom content:
1. MOD THE SIMS (formerly Mod the Sims 2) http://www.modthesims.info/
This is by far the best Sims custom site I've ever come across and I find it absolutely indispensable. Their downloads are high quality and as well as loads of Sims 3 items, they also have a massive amount of Sims 2 content, worth a look if you are still playing The Sims 2. They exercise strict quality control on what they will accept as uploads, so you are assured that the custom content you'll find there is of a good standard.
If you want to make your own custom content, they also make their own good quality apps with which to do so. For clothing, accessories, hat hairs, make-up, beards, eyebrows and face overlays, try their CAS Texture Unitool. It’s very like Sims 2’s Bodyshop, only even more versatile - as well as retexturing, you can also import your own custom meshes and change the categories, ages and genders of clothing, hair and accessories. And to make your own objects, they supply the Sims 3 Object tool , Sims 3 Package Editor (S3PE) and Sims 3 Object Cloner (S3OC). These are rather techie-looking and may look daunting at first, but once you learn to use them, they’re surprisingly easy to use, and quick.
2. MY SIMS 3 BLOG (http://mysims3blog.blogspot.com/)
A must-have. This site compiles the best new items that they've found in custom content across many other sites every day, with links to each item. With tons of specially hand-picked stuff to choose from, no Simmer should be without this site.
3. MORE AWESOME THAN YOU (http://www.moreawesomethanyou.com)
They have created a big mod called The Awesome Mod which fixes many of the bugs in the game, allows you to turn off unwanted features, and many other useful tweaks, such as a Facial Slider hack which enables you to make the facial sliders travel up to five times further, the ability to edit your sims in CAS after you've created them and put them in game, and the ability to REALLY turn off Story Progression: http://www.moreawesomethanyou.com/smf/index.php/topic,15185.0.html. I use this mod myself, have had no problems with it, and would not want to play without it!
4. MISCELLANEOUS SMALLER SITES
All of these sites also provide quality Sims 3 content:
For clothes, hair and other custom content: XM Sims: http://www.xmsims.com/sims3/ehtm/main/index.html
All About Style: http://all-about-style.com/sims3.html Garden of Shadows: http://www.digitalperversion.net/gardenofshadows/index.php
For indispensable mods to help make your game run the way YOU want it to, and to fix bugs and glitches: NRaas Industries mods by Twallan: http://www.the-isz.com/nraas/index.php?board=4.0
Most of these sites require registration in order to download, but registration is free and so are all of their downloads.
5. TWO MORE HUGE SITES, BUT USE WITH CARE!
There is no moderation of uploads on these sites, they contain a vast number of downloads, and sadly most content is of poor quality. But there are definitely some talented creators and good items to be found on each of these sites if you’re willing to spend a good deal of time sifting through the contents:
EA Games' official Sims 3 Exchange: http://www.thesims3.com/exchange
Use the Advanced search facility, which lets you choose to see only Featured Uploads or sort by number of 'Recommendations'. This will enable you to quickly find items worth downloading. There are some excellent Worlds and Lots to be found on this site if you use the Advanced search.
The Sims Resource: http://www.thesimsresource.com
One big problem with this site is that much of the good quality stuff (for instance, if you search on Featured items), is 'pay content' - that is, you have to pay a subscription fee to download it. So you have to decide whether you think it's worth paying for content similar to items available on other sites for free.
I hope all these options will help you find your way to some great content - happy simming!