No, this post isn’t about the Get Together expansion pack that released last December, although I will say that if you don’t have it, you might want to check it out. It does add a lot to gameplay, allowing players to create groups and clubs and giving us more ways to use our imagination.
As I said, though, this post is not about the expansion pack. Instead, it’s about the many ways simmers can “get together” online. I’ve been part of the online simming community since 2000, and even though I didn’t play Sims 3 — it was incompatible with my playing style — I did create a lot of sims to upload to the exchange, participated in a few “modeling” competitions, and was active in the storytelling forums.
The Sims 4 Forum is where I hang-out a bit now. I’m known there as NoWayJose527 — a moniker that’s led a lot of simmers to the erroneous conclusion that I’m male. Nope. Not so.
Although the “official forum” can be a fun place to browse, a good place to go with questions, and a helpful place when bugs and glitches interfere with the game, it’s certainly not the only place for simmers to meet, greet, and get together online.
Let’s face it. Death is a fact of life in Sims 4. Unless you’ve turned aging off, your sims are going to grow old and die. Even with aging disabled, your sims are still subject to death by many means. Sims can drown, be electrocuted, set themselves on fire, and even pass away from the rigors of too much woo-hoo.
Although fellow sims don’t always react when the Grim Reaper comes calling, they will definitely react to the presence of an urn or tombstone — even if they didn’t know the deceased. It’s annoying. They’ll drop items from the queue so they can rush to a grave to weep and wail and wring their hands in despair.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s fine to pay respect to the dead — when directed to do so. It’s just the autonomous action that drives players batty.
When I recently asked players on the Sims 4 Forum to tell me about their favorite game mods, one of the most frequently mentioned was Snaitf’s “Disable Autonomous Mourning“. It’s available at Mod the Sims and will stop your sims from grieving at the sight of an urn or tombstone. You can, of course, still direct your sim to mourn at appropriate times.
Note: If you previously downloaded Snaitf’s Buyable Graves, this mod will not disable autonomous mourning on those urns and tombstones. The mod has now been updated to include this feature, so you’ll want to re-download those items.
Players love this mod. Here’s what Chellejo had to say about it on the forum:
I’d likely never have a tombstone on my lot without Snaitf’s Disable Autonomous Mourning. My sims would stop 3-4 times during making one meal to go mourn. It was far, far too much. And it wasn’t even always someone they were close with. I literally brought a sim in, thru marriage, and he immediately upon entering the house, went to mourn his wife’s dead grandmother. Having never met her. And proceeded to stop cooking repeatedly to mourn her. Too, too much.
If your sims are mourning “too, too much”, you might want to check out Snaitf’s Disable Autonomous Mourning and get back to your game without all the fuss and bother an urn or grave can bring.
As always, I must post a little disclaimer. I haven’t used this mod, so I can’t provide a personal recommendation. Jonathan Chronicles will not be responsible for any problems to to your game or system should you use any of the mods listed on this site. Please remember that mods can cause problems and may need to be updated frequently.
I’ll be sharing more “Favorite Mods” in future posts. If you have a mod you consider essential to your game enjoyment, please mention it in a comment so I can add it to my list. If you’re a Forum member, you can also respond to the question there. Here’s the link again: What Are Your Favorite Mods?
Some guys seem to have all the luck, and Jonathan Evans is one of them. He’s getting quite a reputation as a ladies’ man. Recently his old high-school friend, Alonzo Sams, invited him over in hopes of getting a bit of advice.
Alonzo has been a bit down in the dumps. His relationship with Sofia Jensen isn’t going anywhere. Lately she’s always too busy to spend time with him. She rarely returns his phone calls, and Alonzo is wondering how he can win her heart. Who better to ask than Jonathan?
Jonathan had plenty of advice to offer. Music, he said, always works.
Find out what she likes to listen to and tune in. Better yet, play a song for her, and be sure to promise to dedicate a song to her.
Hmmm…that’s great for someone like Jonathan who happens to be a violin prodigy. Not so great for guys like Alonzo who got tired of his mother nagging at him to practice the piano when he was a kid.
Thankfully, Jonathan had more suggestions. “The way to win a woman’s heart is to tell her what she wants to hear.” That’s Jonathan’s best advice. Oh, that and “Stop focusing on her so much.” According to Jonathan, guys need to play a little “hard-to-get” at times, too. Or as he put it, “Make her come to you.”
What’s he got to lose? Alonzo will try a few of Jonathan’s strategies and see what happens.
At this point in my Townie Project, I had to face a dreadful reality. Even as I worked to assign occupational roles, personalities, and other background information to the townies in my unplayed bin, I knew I would lose some of them. Because of the game mechanics known as culling, townie sims would still appear and disappear at random. I could protect a few townies by placing them in what I call safe houses — that is, putting them onto a lot in the game — but that wasn’t a practical solution for all of the sims in my game.
Like it or not, I had to accept the fact that I would lose some townie sims. This soon lead to a little mystery in my game.
Who Killed Titania McTeague?
After playing several households in the game, I took a deep breath and checked my unplayed bin. I knew a few of the townies on my list would now be gone. I braced myself and prepared to see who the game had taken away.
A lot of my townies were elders. It was fairly easy to say good-bye to them knowing they’d most likely passed away from natural causes. I could imagine the townspeople recalling the deceased with fond memories. Old Arthur Jimenez, the lawyer, had gone to the great judgment in the sky. Dear old Miss Messer, the long-time art teacher at the elementary school would now be painting lovely pictures of heaven. Just as in real life, I quietly acknowledged each passing, paid my respects, and moved on.
But as I started reviewing the list of “missing townies”, I came across not only elders, but adults, and young adults, as well. Surely they hadn’t all been stricken by some fatal disease. They’d been in perfect health, so it obviously made no sense to mark them as deceased. Their disposition, I quickly realized, could be determined by their personal characteristics and role — at least in the case of Titania McTeague.
Titiania was actually a sim I’d created in CAS. I had made her and moved her in with another young adult female, Evangeline Adams. The two of them were supermodels, glamorous young women who’d achieved monetary success but had never found true love. They were both looking.
Together they would hit the bars and clubs of Willow Creek and Oasis Springs, and eventually Evangeline did fall in love and marry. It was time for Titania to move out. Because I no longer needed her in the game and had no place for her in my regular rotation schedule, she went to the “Unplayed” townie bin.
And so it was, when I realized she was suddenly gone from the game, I felt a twinge of sadness. “Poor Titania,” I thought to myself. “You never really had a chance.” But what had happened to her? Why had she suddenly moved away?
Just then I noticed her assigned personality role. Victim.
I knew at once what had happened to poor Titania. She’d been murdered, and I knew exactly who had done it.
Previously, in “Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?” I wrote about the criminals and sexual offenders in my game. I briefly mentioned the killers, but did not go into detail about them. If you’ve read that earlier post, you know that my decision was to mark every 44th townie on my list as a killer.
Each time I mark a townie as a killer, I jump over to Random.org and quickly determine the particular type. So it was, as I looked over my spreadsheet, not far from Titania McTeague’s name, I saw the following information:
Bars and Clubs
I knew at once that I’d found the murderer. I knew who had killed Titania McTeague. And it wasn’t much of a stretch for my imagination to understand how and why it had happened. Remember her search for love? Remember all those bars and clubs where she and her friend hung out? Obviously she’d met her killer at one of those clubs and lost her life as a result. Looking for Mr. Goodbar, anyone?
Although I knew the identity of the killer, my game sims didn’t, and thus began the mystery. As each new month rolled around in my rotation, I used a die to follow the progress of my detectives on the case. It was so much more interesting than the meaningless crimes the game gives them to solve. It was also rather poignant because the lead detective on the case, Justin Simone, was the man Titania’s friend and former roommate had married.
Yes, in time, Tristan Luke was caught. He went to trial, was convicted, and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. The streets of New Simeria are safe once again.
Or are they?
Coming Soon: It was Nice Knowing You!
Thanks so much for visiting the blog today. Happy Simming!
When your active sims grab an energy drink before heading out for a morning job, don’t you sometimes wish you could do the same? You can. With the right ingredients on hand, you can — in only five minutes — put together a powerful boost of energy.
I grabbed this recipe at Tablespoon, posted by “The Girl Who Ate Everything”. I’m glad I found it, and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
Super Energy Drink
1 Medium Orange, peeled (About 1 cup)
3/4 Cup Light Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Ground Flaxseed
1 6-Ounce Yoplait Light Very Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 Cup Ice
How to make? It couldn’t be simpler. Put all ingredients into a blender and whirl away. Once it’s smooth, pour, drink, and enjoy a burst of energy.
Of course, there are many more ways to make energy drinks, so here are a few links to get your started:
a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot
We jokingly refer to them as the “bad guys in the black hats”. In literature classes and creative writing courses, they’re typically called antagonists, the foil to the protagonist whose story is being told.
Most of us met our first villains through cartoons. We heard the music in the background and knew the evil fellow was about to step forward. We watched him tie hapless females to railroad tracks, turn road signs to point in the wrong direction, and hatch other wicked plots to ruin the plans of the main character hero.
In the end, of course, good always triumphed over evil. The villain would slink away, lick his wounds, and silently contemplate his next malicious exploits. Indeed, Saturday morning cartoons wouldn’t have been the same without these over-the-top, melodramatic characters.
Fiction-writing draws upon the same character archetypes as other forms of storytelling — including cartoons – but villains in fiction require a bit more subtlety. Sometimes, in fact, a villain is so subtle, a reader might not see him or her. Villains in the stories we write won’t be stereotypical bad guys in black hats that are easily spotted. Sometimes they’ll be very nice people. The villain of a story can be the main character, or even an animal or inanimate object.
So, to go back to the initial question, yes, every story needs a villain, but not one who’s an obvious caricature of the black-hatted, mustachioed, hand-wringing, snarling villain from Saturday morning cartoons.
To create better villains for your stories, start by understanding the role a villain fulfills. The main character of a story has an objective, a goal he or she is striving to accomplish. The villain’s role is to thwart any attempt to achieve it. In fiction, there are four primary types of villains:
If a character’s objective is safety and freedom, the villain is a deadly force — human or otherwise — that threatens the character’s life and liberty.
If a character’s objective is acceptance and belonging, the villain is an individual, a social group, or a culture that rejects the character.
If a character’s objective is to find truth, the villain is a person or situation that obfuscates, lies, deceives, and hides the facts.
If a character’s objective is to find security and stability or to gain recognition, the villain is an individual, a group, or a powerful force to whom the character is subject; the villain has the ability to cause sudden changes in the character’s position.
These are broad groups, of course, and good fictional villains might have qualities from more than one of these areas. This listing is based on broadly-defined objectives. During the course of a story, characters will also have many specific objectives, some short-term, others long-range. This means that in addition to the main story villain, many different characters and situations will step in to cause problems and conflicts.
In the end, however, it’s the main villain that must be faced. Not all stories have happy endings, but all well-crafted stories must have that final decisive moment when good and evil stand face to face. Choices must be made and consequences must be paid.
To keep your villains realistic, remember to keep them subtle. Remember that villains — the human sort, that is — are people, too. They have strengths as well as weaknesses. Most of all, keep in mind that villains must have reasons for what they do. What is your villain’s objective? How has he or she come into conflict with the main character of the story? What’s at stake for the villain?
The more you know about your villain, the more real he or she becomes, and the stronger your story will be.
Yesterday I posted another installment of “The Townie Project” — information about my quest to bring more drama and excitement to my game. I quoted “The Shadow”, a crime-stopping vigilante from a 1930s radio program. Each episode began with those immortal words:
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.
This was followed by a maniacal laugh with the musical accompaniment of Camille Saint-Saens‘ Le Rouet d’Omphale.
Although many people are familiar with these opening lines, not so many know the closing words of each episode. Here is the Shadow’s reminder to us all:
“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay… The Shadow knows!”
As a simmer, I’ve always looked askance at the “criminals” in the game. With The Sims — the original game — I used to laugh at the idea of someone grabbing a newspaper and applying for a criminal position. Even more hilarious was watching my sim — dressed in his burglar attire — head out the door to meet the car pool and go to work. I remember one player from the old forum writing about how absurd it was for her “criminal” to share-the-ride each morning with his mother, who happened to be in the law enforcement career.
Only in the sims, of course.
In the original game, I simply ignored the criminals. Playing the game as a “bad guy” or “bad girl” just didn’t appeal to me. It was too unrealistic. All the same, I did rather enjoy having criminals lurking in the background.
By the time Sims 2 came around, my position on “the criminal element” changed a bit. I was broadening my game play, adding more households to my rotation, and eventually I found myself with a few not-so-nice fellows to deal with. It’s rather an amusing story as to how the first criminal came into my gameplay, but I’ll save that anecdote for another time.
Once I had criminals in the game, I was forced to deal with an important philosophical question. Would crime pay? This, I think, has always been my problem with the criminal career. I don’t like to sound melodramatic, but what sort of message are we sending to young players? Are we implying that it’s all right to pursue a life of crime, that with hard work and dedication crime can, indeed, pay?
Not in my game, folks.
I decided that I’d have criminals in the game, but those criminals would have to face the consequences of their actions. Illicit behavior could lead to a lock-up. Of course, we didn’t have jails in Sims 2, so as I often do, I relied on my imagination to create them. I became judge, jury, and jailer.
Drawing on my experience as a table-top war-gamer, I knew how useful a six-sided die could be for determining outcomes of gaming events. How could I put the roll of a die to work for me in keeping law and order in Simeria?
I started each criminal with a “0” designation. That meant no arrests. As I began each rotation, I rolled the die for each criminal. If it came up with a “6”, the criminal was under arrest. That didn’t mean much, of course. Not the first time. But his or her arrest record went up — which meant another crime check at the start of my next in-game “month” (In my rotational gameplay, my rotation schedule is divided into months, with one complete rotation becoming equivalent to one full year.) After 3 arrests, a sim criminal was immediately “sent to jail”. The sentence was determined by multiplying the total number of arrests by the criminal’s career level. I then took the sim out of the neighborhood where he lived and moved him or her to a special neighborhood I’d built just for the purpose of housing my miscreants. They remained there — unplayed — until they’d paid their debt to society and were ready to be released. I then returned them to their home neighborhood and allowed them to resume their lives.
With Sims 4, I follow a similar system of “crime checks” but the roll of the die has become a bit more detailed. Another change, too, is that a sim no longer has to pursue a criminal career to be subject to arrest. Any sim whose actions are suspect can face consequences.
Consider my young sim, Hailey Melanson, who was tired of the struggle to pay her bills. She has a job — she’s in the medical field — but she wanted more money, and she wanted it now. She came up with a brilliant idea, set herself up in the fortune-telling business, and began raking in the big bucks under the guise of “Madame Melanson” — who knows all, sees all, and will reveal all…for a price, of course.
Nice work, Hailey, but it was inevitable that someone should complain. Apparently not all of her clients felt they’d received their money’s worth. After all, a thousand simoleons is a hefty sum to pay for a bit of psychic advice.
Police received complaints that Hailey was running a scam, a fraudulent fortune-telling scheme that was bilking people out of their hard-earned money. Hailey was added to my “criminal registry” and became subject to prosecution to the full extent of the law. She’s been lucky, though. Despite undergoing several “crime checks” she’s never been arrested. People in my game are still complaining about her, but she’s still taking in money.
Now, with the addition of a whole slew of new criminals through my Townie Project, I’m doing more crime checks and my Daily Chronicle newspaper where I record the events and activities going on in New Simeria is filled with sensational headlines. Murder, stalking, trials, and plea bargains have all become part of my regular routine as a simmer. Occasionally someone gets away with it, but for the most part, in my game, at least, crime does not pay. As the Shadow said so many years ago, it bears its bitter fruit.
By now, my project was in full swing. My sim neighborhoods had people from all walks of life. I had a few eccentric characters, a few very conventional, conservative folks, and a broad range of positions across the economic ladder. Some were very rich; some were very poor. Most were just “the middling sort.”
But my fictional world of the sims still didn’t accurately reflect the real world. Basically, all my sims were good. Oh, I had sims with that “evil trait” EA provides for us, but we all know that true evil is more than simply insulting folks or starting fights. It was time for me — and my sims — to look at the darker side of life.
Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?
Maybe you’ve heard those words before. They come directly from a radio program that first appeared in the 1930s and went on to become an American icon. If you want to know more, check out The Shadow for an interesting bit of history, or click here to hear the chilling words of The Shadow as portrayed by Frank Readick, Jr.
I kept hearing that voice in my head as I contemplated the townies in my sim bin. Surely there would be a few real stinkers in there, a few bad apples that could threaten the whole bunch. Oh, yes. I just had to find them.
I toyed with the idea of doing a bit of demographic research to determine what percent of the American population become criminals, but “illegal activity” covers a lot of ground, and I reasoned that it might be difficult to find exactly what I was looking for. So, I made my own sim demographics, arbitrarily choosing my own percentage. No, that’s not quite true. What I did was to choose an arbitrary number — 13 — which resulted in a percentage. To save you from doing the math, it works out to 8% of my population.
But that’s just for the more-or-less average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill criminal. The world has not only common criminals, but sexual predators, too. And then there are the truly dangerous men and women of the world — the killers. Yep. Oasis Springs, Willow Creek, and my other neighborhoods were about to be plunged into a crime wave as I found these despicable guys and gals and unleashed them upon my unsuspecting sims.
First, I marked every 13th townie as “Criminal”
Second, I marked every 31st townie as “Sexual Offender”
Third, I marked every 44th townie as “Killer”
All those number are arbitrary ones. Thirteen sounded like a good, chilling number for criminals. I turned it around to arrive at my sexual offender factor, and as you can easily see, I added those two numbers together to come up with a designation for true evil.
But wait! There’s more.
There are many different types of criminals, many different sexual crimes, and many different ways in which murders are committed. Once again, I drew inspiration from Writer’s Guide to Character Traits. Looking to create a criminal? Take a look at this list:
Counterfeiter or Forger
Habitual Petty Criminal
Ordinary Career Criminal
Professional Career Criminal
I decided to skip over the “skyjackers” since that didn’t seem too useful for my game. Using the number generator at Random.org I assigned a “criminal type” to my sim criminals.
It proved interesting. As I looked at the information I’d compiled on my spreadsheet, my imagination kicked into gear. Consider the possible stories for Corinne Edwards based on her profile:
Criminal — Occasional Offender
An “occasional offender” working as a bank teller? Hmmm. A single young woman who yearns to live a life of adventure? She’s probably “dipping into the till” now and then, stashing a bit of cash for all those worldly adventures she can’t afford.
Things got even more interesting as I looked at the different types of sexual offenders.
As I randomly assigned sexual offense “types” for my Townie Project, I came across this fellow:
Jensen Painting Company
Oh, my! I looked at his family in the bin. His lovely wife and his two beautiful, blonde-haired teen daughters. I truly saw the evil. I thought especially of his oldest daughter, Sofia, and how skittish she’s been around boys, and I knew I’d uncovered a deep, dark secret in her life.
And what about the killers?
More to come!
The Townie Project – Part 6: Who Killed Titania McTeague?
By the way, let me quickly fill you in on a few interesting things about Corrine Edwards and Allen Jensen. As my Townie Project has continued, a lot has happened.
Corrine has now married Dr. Bennett London, her psychologist, and they’re expecting their first child.
Allen Jensen’s wife finally left him after he got caught fooling around with a young student at Dunbar State University. She moved out, the student moved in, and little Jacqueline Jensen recently came into the world.
Sofia Jensen married a wonderful, loving young man but was devastated to learn that she’ll never be able to have babies as a result of the sexual abuse she suffered throughout her childhood. She’s now attending regular sessions with one of Dr. Bennett’s therapy groups.