And from the ashes…TSO Restoration plans to bring back The Sims Online!

by Urizenus Sklar on 02/01/11 at 7:28 pm

Will Uri and the Herald return to (emulated) TSO?

In this interview we meet, Ghost, a former resident of Blazing Falls on TSO. He is currently involved in a project called TSO Restoration, which is a team of developers that are working to build a version of TSO on private servers. He claims it will have all the features of the TSO we loved to hate, and more! But if they build it, will people come?

Urizenus: Ghost, tell me about your project.
Ghost: Before TSO Restoration was founded, it was initially just a solo effort started by Mats (Afr0) a talented programmer from Norway who desired to create a TSO Private Server. He began work on this project in 2007 before EA-Land and managed to get together a small team of developers on a game developer forum. It was done more as hobby, working in their spare time to emulate the game. The small team eventually separated and went on to do their own things but Afr0 continued to work on it once in a while. It was in late 2007, when TSO was still around, that I contacted Afr0 about helping out with the project. After several years of keeping the project hidden, we decided to release the project to the public – in hopes of finding talented programmers to assist us with this task. The TSO Restoration Project was officially public on October 22, 2010. Since that time, we have gained several more developers who are assisting in various efforts of the project and we are confident that we will eventually achieve our goal.

details please

Urizenus: How does one do something like this, especially now that the original TSO is no more? Do you reverse engineer EA’s platform?
Ghost: Unfortunately, because the TSO servers are no longer online – we’re unable to gather any more packets. This means we’re no longer an “emulation” project. Everything except perhaps the art and graphics is being recreated by our team.
Urizenus: So you are building it from scratch. Will it be aesthetically identical to the tSO we remember?
Ghost: Yes, our goal of the project is to make it look and interact exactly as the original TSO.
Urizenus: So the same motives then. What about all the usual interactions? tickling, dancing etc?
Ghost: You will be able to do all of the interactions. In fact, there is no reason we can not have more than just the original interactions. Our team plans on not only providing the same TSO experience for free, but also adding improvements to the game. What is to stop us from supporting unicode with special characters? Why not raise the tile limit and have size nine or ten lots? These are just a few of the ideas our team has in making the game more enjoyable.

Urizenus: What about the possibility of having users provide custom content and custom animations?
Ghost: As we saw in EA-Land, the TSOClient definitely has the potential to support such endeavors. We will pursue such capabilities in the future. I can’t promise you that custom content will be in our first release though. ;)

business plan?

Urizenus: What is the business plan for this going to be. How are you going to pay for this? And is the plan for it to actually make money for you some day?
Ghost: Our team is not motivated by financial reasons. We’re planning on providing the game free of charge on our own servers supported by donations. It is also our goal to eventually make it Open Source. This will allow developers to make their own versions of TSO and also allow people with little to no programming experience start their own servers with their friends.

when can we join?

Urizenus: How long before this is ready for open alpha/beta and how will people find out when it is ready?
Ghost: We’ve been getting that question a lot. It’s hard to give a definite timeframe on a project like this. I want to emphasize: The question is not “Will TSO Return”.. The question is “When will TSO Return?”. Our developers are motivated and dedicated to this project. A few more talented C++ programmers can make the difference between years and months in development time before we begin private testing. This is why it is critical that we continue to find more talent to work with our team. We will release information regarding testing on our community website – Anyone who contributes their time or money on our website should expect to be called upon when we’re ready for testing.

why TSO again? now?

Urizenus: As you may know, I left TSO in 2004, the same time as many other people moved to Second Life. On my visits back to TSO it seemed rather primitive and quaint, although I did have some big nostalgia attacks. So the question has to be asked: Why are you rebuilding what is really an ancient platform? What are you still attracted to it? Why are other people attracted to it?
Ghost: First and foremost, we’re rebuilding TSO because it is something that we are very passionate about. We miss the game and enjoy the challenge in a project of this scale. I also left TSO in 2004 when they took away the old friendship link system, which by the way – will be brought back. I personally believe that TSO filled a subconscious void in peoples lives. Besides being a part of The Sims Franchise, people loved the simplicity of the game. That is ultimately what it comes down to. MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft do well because they are easy. It is not because they have superior graphics or complex, thought-provoking gameplay. That is not to say that TSO was easy, it certainty wasn’t.. but doing things like playing pizza doesn’t take anywhere near the effort it takes to become a successful content creator in SL. It forced people to interact, to make friendships that last to this day. I think even years later, people will still be attracted to it.

will people actually play this?

Urizenus: How many people do you think will come and play your version of TSO?
Ghost: You look at TSO in 2008, you had thousands of subscribers spending $10 a month for each account. While that may not be a lot compared to other online games, I believe there will still be thousands of people eager to play. Especially now that it is free. I’m optimistic that we will have at least one full city of people. We’re hoping to make it as easy as possible to get into the game, unlike other private servers which requires a whole lot of tinkering with game files. Even if no one is attracted to our version, we will still release the technology which will allow people to run their own versions. This will allow a small group of friends (assuming they have the hardware) to have a small “Sims Online” community between just them. Since we’re not motivated by money, we really have nothing to lose if what we’re doing isn’t as popular as we thought. Of course, it is always good for morale to see people interested in playing again. :)

Urizenus: a few thousand subscribers?
Ghost: When EA-Land was in it’s peak (all of the cities merged), They had around 900 users online at a time. I also want to point out, they wouldn’t be subscribers, since they are not paying any fees to access our server. A few thousand users should be more than enough to have a "full city" feeling 24/7.

community management

Urizenus: Do you have plans for dealing with disputes between residents and griefers? And mafias?
Ghost: Just like the original TSO, we will have a Customer Service section dedicated to solving disputes between players. People may feel that they have less to lose since they are paying nothing to log in the servers, but I would like to point out that we can do a lot of things that EA wouldn’t do. For example, EA was never strict on IP Banning, you could go purchase a new account and log back in after getting banned. We eliminate such capabilities for griefers. We have no issues with mafias or other role-play groups that decide to settle in our server.

Urizenus: will you bring back red links?
Ghost: Yes, the old friendship link system (tagging) will be brought back.

legal issues

Urizenus: Let’s talk about the legal aspects of this. Do you have permission from EA to do this? It is hard for me to imagine that they would willingly turn over their Sims franchise to a handful of independent programmers.
Ghost: Sure. Parts of our project are in the legal grey area. That won’t stop us from doing what we have set out to do. Unlike Blizzard, EA is not notorious for spending large amounts of money on lawsuits. We’re hoping that they won’t spend the time and money required to shut down a small group of indie developers. I’d also like to point out that what we’re doing is in no way unusual. You can find thousands of private servers for all different types of MMORPGS that have yet to be shut down by the original game developers. What we’re doing, since we’re rebuilding all the code from scratch, actually makes us more legal than the other projects I tell you about. SWGEmu, InWorldz SL, WoWServers, and Lineage Private servers are all examples of similar projects that have been going on for years without running into legal trouble. We’re here for the long term and we are confident that we can avoid any such issues coming from EA.

economic issues

Urizenus: Are you going to allow the open sale of simoleans and rares?
Ghost: I think it is inevitable. People are going to want an advantage in any game. In this case, people are going to want to go back to the standard of living that they were used to when they quit. We’re fortunate to have a very talented development team, which includes the creator of the infamous TSOAuto Maze Bot. We know how to shut down any unfair advantages, so any sales of simoleans and rares will be allowed and not regulated.

red balloon redemption

Urizenus: Last question: am I still kicked out or can I come back when you start up?
Ghost: You have been pardoned by the TSOResoration Development Team. We look forward to seeing you in our server and hope that you will post entertaining TSO news like you did back in the day!
Urizenus: Yay!

35 Responses to “And from the ashes…TSO Restoration plans to bring back The Sims Online!”

  1. Pappy Enoch

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    Free? Hoo-whee. Hillbilly heaven. I plans me a first-rate squat soon’s they opens ‘er up for a beater-test.

  2. Rock Ramona

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    /meputsonsSSGuniform……lol im really happy to hear about this project,before my health headed downhill i spent time helping the SWGemu folks where i could.I actually left TSO when the SSG went to SWG.we had a lot of fun there and had the biggest player city in the whole game.Eventually the folks in SSG went to WOW,which i tried for 2 weeks and left.I was lost for a couple weeks,looking all over for something to play when i ran across an article on a private blog that mentioned Second LIfe,and i thought wow,thats still around???I was in beta when SL first started but got banned by telling everyone my opinion.I went back and have been here ever since.I cant wait till SWG and TSO are up and easily playable,ive already told the entire SSG Sorority House crew and they are fired up and ready to play,WE ARE GONNA HAVE SUM FUN URI!!!!!!!!!

  3. Kati

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    Am I the only one who sees “TSO” and immediately thinks Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

  4. Tux

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    The Second Orifice?

  5. Senban Babii

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    I have to admit I missed out on the whole TSO thing the first time round so I’m quite looking forward to trying this in a retro fun kind of way.

    TSO does have neko, right? O.o

  6. Gaara Sandalwood

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    “Am I the only one who sees “TSO” and immediately thinks Trans-Siberian Orchestra?”


  7. Gaara Sandalwood

    Jan 3rd, 2011

    And I wasn’t even actively online anywhere when that game was around. Depending on how it goes, I may enjoy it.

  8. IntLibber

    Jan 4th, 2011

    I’ll be interested in checking it out, but hey, you don’t see people building a business model (even an open sourced one) around mass production of Model T cars. tSOR will likely be no more populated than ActiveWorlds or Free is not a marketing plan, it is certainly not a capitalization plan.

  9. Ted

    Jan 4th, 2011

    Yeah, uh, IntLibber, you don’t know what you are talking about, sorry.

  10. just another dodo

    Jan 4th, 2011

    How do you mean Intlibber? ‘Free’ is the oldest trick in the marketing book. you must have noticed the word some places.

    “Buy one get one FREE!”
    “Now 20% FREE!”
    “With this car, first service and tire checks FREE!”
    “FREE cawash with every full tank of gas!”

    Also, think that WoW would have less people play it if it would be free?
    I would be playing it if it were. I know I wouldnt give SL a second glance if it had a subscription fee like WoW does…

    And I wonder how many people choose GIMP for free download over Photoshop that cost what, hundreds of dollars?

  11. General Drama

    Jan 4th, 2011

    Who cares about obsolete technology run by a bunch of nerds who are uneducated about finance, marketing, management, or good customer relations? Wait wait, was I talking about tSO or LL?

    Bet your ass you’ll never see this in tSO:

  12. Haden Michelle

    Jan 4th, 2011

    I’m personally bouncing off the walls about this project. I think what they’re doing is phenomenal. TSO was the game of a liftime and for it to be coming back to experience a second time around will bring nostalgia out of everyone. Kudos to all the developers, keep up the great work :)

  13. Vic

    Jan 10th, 2011

    i am super excited to hear about this, i would randomly search google with the sims online 2 or ea land 2 or tso 2011 to see if any news about the game will come out and im glad i did todau to find out this awsome news! i cannot wait to be sucked into this game again haha =]

  14. Sweethugger

    Jan 17th, 2011

    omg Tso Back Here I Come I Missed It alot

  15. Moonbeam

    Jan 25th, 2011

    Is this a joke? I mean, I loved TSO! If you can really bring it back….that would be amazing….made a lot of friends there….sniff….was just thinking about it, getting all misty-eyed.

  16. Blake

    Feb 3rd, 2011

    Damn i loved TSO, i sold my 16 Billion simoleans before it all went down hill haha.. Would love to play in my spare time again, and actually wouldn’t mind paying a monthly subscription if it could contribute to a good team of developers.

  17. Kristen Gambino/ Montana

    Feb 12th, 2011

    everyone join the forums and support this project. =}

  18. Liz Platt

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    Can’t help but to question the Legality now, why is it that this project has the availability to get all of this up and running, when the Dev’s from EALand went and created TirNua, and with all the info they have, why is it that not ONE object was “transferred” from TSO/EALand to TirNua?
    I’m guessing that it’s because it is not legal for them to do that?
    And through the grapevine, I’ve heard that Ex-EA employees are not allowed to JOIN this website?
    One has to ask…. why?

  19. Ghost

    Feb 24th, 2011

    Unfortunately, you have no understanding of civil law. Here is why:

    Former EA Developers need to make a living. If they hoped to start their own company, they better not use what you call “All the info they have” to transfer EA’s intellectual property into their new game. Profiting off this to make a living would be both immoral and illegal.

    TSOR Developers are volunteers. We’re not profiting off anything EA created, nor are we distributing anything that EA has made. According to legal experts who understand every technical details behind the project, We are in complete compliance with US Copyright Law and WIPO.

    According to our Terms of Service:
    2e. You may not create an account if you were or currently are a paid employee under Electronic Arts or any of it’s subsidiaries, unless given specific approval by the Administrator.

    This was done because:

    (From Player Campaigns with permission)
    Electronic Arts encouraged its players and former players to reactivate old accounts at $9.99 per month with the promise or rewards and gifts. Electronic Arts delayed those rewards for months….meanwhile players paid for their accounts and additional accounts. The day before those rewards and promises Electronic Arts reneged on their promises and shut us out of our game. This violates consumer protection laws.

    Electronic Arts promised us value for our custom created content. Many of those same contents were deleted from the game with no compensation or apologizes. Sims Online players spent an accumulation of thousands and thousands of hours creating this content only to see it disappear.

    According to players; Electronic Arts oversold the economy creating a lower dollar value, they tried to make it up by refunding the purchases of Simoleans sold through ATM’s in The Sims Online ( EA-Land) leaving those who could not afford their scam to play on an unleveled playing field for the same dollar. If this is true it violates consumer protection laws.

    Electronic Arts did not give an Official Notice to its player as stated on the retail box. According to Sims Online players; an official email was sent out only a few weeks before the actual closing of The Sims Online, not 90 days as marked on the Sims Online box. If you have ever purchased a copy of The Sims Online or know of someone who did you will want them to join our campaign. If true…this would violates consumer protection laws.

    These specific EA employees, many of whom went to join the company called Tirnua abused, misled and lied to their customers. Motivations or intentions aside, they are not the type of people I want on my community. If they want to make an appeal to this, you will notice I said they are allowed with Administrator approval, as we already have at least former EA Developer registered at our website.

    One has to ask.. Why are some of these people no longer working for EA? :)

    Anyone that has serious legal concerns is advised to check out our legal post (I go far more in depth) @

    I normally don’t respond to trolls but I think it’s good that I clear this issue up for the casual readers of this article who may not take the time to check out our website. Feel free to contact me there with any further questions.

  20. Alexandra

    Apr 1st, 2011

    SO excited about this!

  21. Judy

    Apr 5th, 2011

    I have been searching hoping to find any kind of news about a possible return of a version of The Sims Online. I’ve written EA with no response. I’ve left feedback in the Ideas sections with no response. And I’m not alone. I’ve found so many people who share the same interest in seeing a comeback. I think what the original TSO lacked was direction. There was no purpose really. It was fun, made a lot of friends and shared laughs. But it needed something. EA pretty much gave up working on it. They’ve come a long way with the Sims games and The Sims 3 is pretty cool. Why can’t they use the same format in a new and improved TSO? One where players gain experience through challenges and quests. Rather than it just being a so called “glorified chat room”. With all of the more advanced MMO’s out now I would think EA would give it another try. What could it hurt?
    So if you guys think you can pull this off…. please, keep me informed! :)

  22. David Pierce

    Apr 7th, 2011

    Oh, the memories of the Sims Online.

    It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been 10 years since I began playing The Sims Online, and started an entertainment property in the city of Alphaville known as “Diamond Memorial Theatre” in early 2002 while TSO was still in Beta testing.

    I recently did a web search for Diamond Memorial Theatre and couldn’t believe all of the news stories and blog posts that were still posted, after nearly ten years of absence! What a fun time it was.

    In over 2 years, Diamond Memorial Theatre became a founding member of the SimArts community in Alphaville. The community thrived with some of the most amazing people I had the privilege of meeting, visionaries like Paul Neruda, Lioness, Coconaut, Derek Star, Eliza Collins, Viola Shakespeare, Mr-President, Oprah Winfrey, ShawnRyanII, Marilyn Monroe, Charlize Theron, Johnny Lace, Ashley Richardson, Angie Oceangoddess, Bridey Frankensteen and so many others who attempted to create something far beyond the “money machines” or the “glorified chat room” that everyone considered the central focus of TSO. They started the United Arts Council, raising money for new projects to develop the entertainment community. They built beautiful lots and with limited tools created extraordinary designs. They built whole governments, courtrooms, game shows, award shows, beauty pagents, radio shows, contests- they were innovators- and they were pretty great friends, too.

    The anticipation we all felt when TSO had it’s official launch in the winter of 2002 (despite the huge disappointment of the first “mega wipe”) was palpable- we were sure the future was here. I felt so privileged to be a part of TSO in it’s heyday, and I’ll never forget the memories I had there.

    I’ll be looking out for the release of this new TSO. And who knows, maybe Diamond Memorial Theatre could return- a ten year tribute to a game with a lot of memories, and a lot of heart.

    Until then,
    David Pierce

  23. sporeboy100 (i like to keep my real name private)

    Apr 22nd, 2011

    so i see… TSO is being risen from the ashes of the metropolis we called TSO

  24. Marie

    Apr 26th, 2011

    I really carnt wait for TSO to return, I enjoyed every minute of it and im certain I will enjoy the new TSO :)

  25. William

    Jun 5th, 2011

    It Will Be Much Better Now. But The Update utility Might Have Issued Graphics But Never Mind. It Will Be Interesting To Play It.

    EA Always Wanted Money And They Made A Free Server Month So Next Month U Have To Pay It To Play. $9.99 = 10 dollars . then u get extra money on the game when u payed.

    tso restoration ID : YoutubeSims

  26. ClosedDoors1559

    Jun 24th, 2011

    I never got any chance to play TSO, because it required a credit card, so I gave up on this game. When TSO became EA-Land, I was unlucky to miss it. I really wanted to play this game, it looked so cool on the screenshots! I’m really happy to read this, and I instantly signed up as CD1559. I especially like how it is going to be ported to (hopefully) Mac OS X 10.0, so even older PowerPC-based Macs can run this.

  27. Bobby

    Jul 7th, 2011

    TSO will come back someday but i do not think it will be brought back by Ghosts team because he is on a powertrip, and he is a total nutjob. he has removed 2 of his best developers from the group because they had a difference of opinion from him, they wouldnt let him tell them how to live thier lives, and wouldnt kiss his ass. he is now telling the remaining supporters of TSOR blatant lies about these 2 developers. the truth will come out in the end.

    do not donate to TSOR, ghost is only using this all for his own self gain and with the progress his group has made or rather lack there of, the game will not be online for 10 years if at all.

  28. Jamie Wood

    Sep 14th, 2011

    I WANT this… only, I want the old broken game with no sim death, back in the day when we could have paint-till-you-drop contests. I met my best friend in the world in TSO, and I want that crazy little world back. I will be watching for it. :)

    Jamie Wood of Interhogan

  29. Cubsfan

    Oct 31st, 2011

    Any other word on this? Is it still in the works?

  30. IntLibber

    Nov 1st, 2011

    Its operational, its on facebook, look for “The Sims Social”

  31. welp

    Nov 3rd, 2011

    @cubsfan Surprise, surprise, EA threatened them with a lawsuit, and the coding team imploded on itself.

  32. Reader

    Nov 3rd, 2011

    No one in their right mind could have or should have held out hope that it would ever fly. Absolutely no surprise what-so-ever.

  33. steventylertso

    Dec 21st, 2011

    You know, SOME companies, forget about the people that made them; these people can break them, too, which they also seem to forget. Why, when a group of dedicated gamers and programmers decide to bring back to life a game SOME company buried in the most dark and forsaken ends of the market drawer, they (the company) decide it’s time to bully them (the group of dedicated gamers and programmers) and… threatening with their big-ass lawyers. When they saw it was an actual possibility that a group of people without the means of a gaming giant could resurrect a game “they” had deemed a financial burden and decided to relocate the funds invested in running it to “more profitable and modern” titles, then they remembered it was their game. I mean, if you’re so sure something is so unsellable, why bother paying so much money just to make sure no one else can develop it and bring it back to the people who want it?

    I smell BS. And yes, that means you, EA. You suck for shutting TSO down, suck even more for lying about both the reasons and the fact that you weren’t going to, and if you ask me (which I know you haven’t and probably won’t), you’re bluffing when you threaten to take the TSO Restoration guys to court. Of course, they won’t risk that.
    That’s my opinion, so, you can either (as you do so well) suck it or sue me.

  34. Dummer Sharma

    Jun 15th, 2013

    Good luck to the TSOResoration Development Team. Keep going!

Leave a Reply