*sigh* I have come to the realization that I need to do a complete re-install
The most practical installation order would be: all eps/sps in the order in which they were released. And where patches are available, patch each pack immediately after installation, before moving on to the next pack.
There is no need to run the game until EVERYTHING is in place, including the cleaned hoods, mods, ets. The custom content button can only be set once the game is running, but when started for the first time, the game will notice that CC is present, and will ask if it must include said CC. Once the game runs, you can change this in the settings to make sure the game never asks again, but includes CC automagically.
I'm slightly confused about 'unticking the CC box'. That doesn't seem to sound right. Normally, that box STARTS unticked, so it needs to be ticked to make CC work, unless you want the game to ask for it at every startup. Also, if CC isn't included, your fancy shiny templates are ignored too. Unless you mean the hood templates...
On the other hand, running the game after each install is not really a problem. As you said: it helps determining if everything works! And once you've installed everything, and you're certain everything works, you can simply delete the entire "EA Games/The Sims 2" folder from "My Documents" in order to force the game to recreate that folder from the cleaned up hoods Besides, you will probably wish to restore your old playable hoods from the backups...
However, there is a lot that can be fixed even without uninstalling/reinstalling. miros1 has a lot of info on the subject, over at The Wooden Simolean. I would start there, if I were you.
Reading that list, the only problems that would actually corrupt your game (as opposed to your hood) is inappropriate actions with the Object NPC's.
All the others are about hood/lot corruption. And yes, there is a point at which you have to scrap your hood and start again. And I'm not convinced that you haven't reached that. But to be fair, just playing the game does that as well -- the older a hood is the more likely it is to corrupt regardless of whether you've done any corrupting behaviours.
For saving your houses - once you've deleted them from the bin, they're only in the hood.
There are a few ways of saving the houses.
1. Put them in sims2pack files. If you click on your house or shop, there is a button that will let you put them into sims2pack files and save them to desktop.
2. Use Rufio to export details of all your lots and houses into a spreadsheet. Then use the Lot numbers from Rufio to identify the actual lot from the lot folder to save.
I don't know whether you are familiar with Rufio but it is a singularly useful statistical/housekeeping tool for me.
How to use Rufio and what it does:
1. Open up SimPE, and select Neighbourhood Browser to choose the hood you want to do stuff in. (Ctrl+Shift+N)
2. Tool -> Neighborhood -> Export Neighborhood.
3. select a folder or create one to put it in. Select the Hood you want to export. Then wait a LONG while it does it's thing.
4. This will create a Folder called 'Rufio'.
Inside Rufio folder there are 4 Things -
2 text files One called "Exported Lots", one called "Exported Sims". These are in CSV format, and can be opened up in a spreadsheet.
2 folders with images - LotImage, SimImage.
LotImage has a picture (hood view) of each lot. The Image name is as follows <Neighborhood Number>_<Lot Number>
The Lot Number on the image matches the lot number of the package that is that lot.
SimImage has the same - where the Image Name is (you guessed it ) <Neighborhood Number>_<Sim Number>
And the Sim Number matches the number of the package that the sim is in.
The Text files are awesome.
The Exported Lot file gives the following info:
hood, HoodName, LotInstance, HouseNumber, HouseName
The Exported Sim file gives the following info:
hood, HoodName, NID, FirstName, LastName, SimDescription, FamilyInstance, HouseholdName, HouseNumber, AvailableCharacterData, Unlinked, ParentA, ParentB, Spouse, BodyType, NPCType, SchoolType, Grade, CareerPerformance, Career, CareerLevel, ZodiacSign, Aspiration, Gender, LifeSection, AgeDaysLeft, PrevAgeDays, AgeDuration, BlizLifelinePoints, LifelinePoints, LifelineScore, GenActive, GenNeat, GenNice, GenOutgoing, GenPlayful, Active, Neat, Nice, Outgoing, Playful, Animals, Crime, Culture, Entertainment, Environment, Fashion, FemalePreference, Food, Health, MalePreference, Money, Paranormal, Politics, School, Scifi, Sports, Toys, Travel, Weather, Work, Body, Charisma, Cleaning, Cooking, Creativity, Fatness, Logic, Mechanical, Romance, IsAtUniversity, UniEffort, UniGrade, UniTime, UniSemester, UniInfluence, UniMajor, Species, Salary, PrimaryAspiration, SecondaryAspiration, HobbyPredestined, LifetimeWant
As you can see - you get a cross reference between Lots, Families, and Sim Numbers for all your Sims (and pretty much everything else as well).
Regardless of whether you decide to rebuild your hoods or not - I would seriously suggest that you do this because
(a) it will help you to rebuild the sims, as close to what you can.
(b) it helps me keep track of what my sims/lots are and where they are.
I've never heard of Rufio - but I'm excited to learn more! If I can just restart my hoods, that would be great!
I'd still like to use the "clean 'hood" templates I linked to in my first post... I'm still researching, obviously, and I'm extremely grateful for all the help/advice I get - YAY!
OK. This is the link to the forum 'Tips, Tricks and Tutorials' Look for the tutorials 'Kiri - Setting up Sims 01/02' to '08'
You won't have to do all the steps because I wrote this for a friend who was installing as well, and I suspect you already have the hacks needed to minimise the NPC's - if you don't then read step 02.
I'm going out now - but I'll come back and walk you through the other things you need to do to either save or remake your hood.
BO - No problems. I wasn't aware of it either until a very kind friend helped me when I was having hood problems.
After my little machine is up and running - I'll tackle my main game/big rig. Believe me - I'll holler if I get stuck or have a question
The NL patch wouldn't run; I hope that wasn't death defying important?
GL doesn't have a patch - right?
Pets BS patch wouldn't run either - but, that's OK, right? Because it won't be my last BS - AL/MG will be.
That's as far as I got tonight... well, plus setting up the file structure etc that you recommended