Rotational Gameplay

One of the reasons why The Sims has been successful in the past is because it lends itself to many different styles of play. Sims 4 is more linear and more restrictive than previous versions of the game, yet with a bit of imagination — and a lot of hope for future additions to the game — it is possible to enjoy “playing with life”, as the developers claim.

I thought today I’d take a moment to explain a bit about my personal simming style since Jonathan’s story is based on incidents that occur within my game. Understanding how I play and how I make choices for my sims might provide more insights into Jonathan Evans and his life.

I’m a rotational player. Many simmers choose to create a single family and play only that family throughout many generations. I like more creative flexibility, more ongoing storylines, and more opportunities to wreak havoc in the lives of my sims. Were I to play only a single family, I’m sure I would become too attached to them, too close to be objective about game choices, and too unwilling to see them experience any problems.

Rotational Gameplay

Rotational players differ in their methods. Here’s an article I found that explains some of the ideas behind rotational gameplay:


When you read posts in this journal about Jonathan Evans and what’s going on in his life, you’ll see odd-looking dates affixed at the start. As I play, I follow my own in-game calendar. Each complete rotation I make through my active families is equivalent to one year’s time. When I opened Sims 4 for the first time and began creating my families, I called that Year 1000. Currently, it’s November 1031 in my game, meaning I’ve nearly finished my 31st complete rotation.

I have 36 active “household slots”. I play 3 each “month” of game time, so again, one rotation equals one year in my game. These household slots do change from time to time. Earlier today, I moved one single adult woman off to the unplayed category, so I’ll now be able to fill up her household slot with one of my young adults. The sim who was moved has been married and divorced, her children are all grown, and I felt it was time for her to move on to see the world. Basically, she wasn’t involved in any strong storylines, so like a soap opera character whose part is over, she no longer had much to contribute for my game.

In addition to my 3 monthly household plays, I also include playtime for weddings, birthday celebrations, and for the arrival of new babies. Here’s how it works for me.

I began each “game year” by creating a calendar and assigning the household slots for each. I have a spreadsheet of names and ages for all my sims, and at the start of each new game year, I check to see what important birthdays are coming up.

  • When a baby reaches age 6, he or she gets an official birthday play. (I wish we had toddlers. I have no choice but to keep my babies in their bassinets for 6 rotations. That’s not good.)
  • When a child reaches age 13, he or she gets an official birthday to celebrate reaching their teen years.
  • When a teen turns 19, he or she becomes a young adult and receives an official birthday celebration. If possible, I’ll also move that sim into a vacant “household slot”.
  • Young adults mature to adults at age 40. Another opportunity for a birthday celebration.
  • Adults become elders at age 65. They get both a retirement party and a birthday celebration.

My game options are to play with aging on, aging active household only, and normal lifespan. Once each game year, I check the box to age unplayed sims so that they can age along with my active families.

When I play birthday, wedding, or new baby events, I temporarily turn off aging. My attempts to keep my sims’ ages correct doesn’t work absolutely right, so I sometimes turn to cas.fulleditmode to adjust a sim’s age.

When sims get engaged, I’ll often roll a 6-sided die to “set the wedding date”. When Kurt Bowen and Chloe Parker announced their engagement last year, a die roll set the date for February. Hmmm, guess she wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding. It was lovely. They’ll soon be celebrating their first anniversary, and they have a new baby who’ll be arriving in April.

Of course, whenever a sim gets big news that she’s going to be a mother, I add 9 game months, mark it on my game calendar, and look forward to the happy event.

A Note About Jonathan’s Story

With my play style, normally I would play Jonathan’s “household slot” only once for each year. Because I’ve chosen Jonathan as the leading character for this journal, I’ll be playing his household — with aging off — much more often. I want the opportunity to follow Jonathan more closely, to give him more opportunities for decision-making, and more chances for both success and failure.

As I play each of my families, I try to put myself into the character’s head and heart. I think about how that character might be feeling, the obstacles he or she is facing, the choices he or she might need to make. From time to time, I also throw in “random factors” to see how my characters will handle adversity.

I don’t “make up stories” and then attempt to act them out in my simming. I create characters — like Jonathan Evans — and put them into a living, breathing world of possibilities. I observe them. I learn about them. I follow along, allowing them to lead me through their story.

Yes, this is Jonathan’s story, not mine. I hope you enjoy it.





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