The Townie Project – Part 7: It’s Been Nice Knowing You

Part 1: First Thoughts
Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?
Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
Part 4: What’s Your Style?
Part 5: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?
Part 6: Who Killed Titania McTeague?
Anne Sorensen thought she'd found her "Prince Charming", but the game culled him away.
Anne Sorensen thought she’d found her “Prince Charming”, but the game culled him away.

Long before I began “The Townie Project”, a lovely young adult sim in my game went strolling in the park one day. There she met the man of her dreams. His name was Lyle Youngblood. He was a townie. Despite my general dislike of townies at that time, I was happy for Anne. She’s been looking for love for a long time. After graduating high school, she moved in with her brother, an arrangement that works well, but which neither wants to become permanent. Anne dreams of finding a prince charming, falling in love, getting married, and making a home for a husband and the children they will have.

When she met Lyle Youngblood that day in the park, they seemed a perfect match. He was a rugged outdoorsman. He was handsome. He enjoyed sky-gazing with Anne. Oh, yes. She’d found the right man for sure.

As a rotational player, I moved on to another family after spending a little time with Anne. But then a warning flashed in my brain. If I wanted Anne to develop a lasting relationship with Lyle Youngblood, I’d better grab him — fast! If not, he might well be “culled” from the game. I exited to the “Household Management” screen and began searching the townie bin. Alas, Lyle Youngblood was already gone.

So Long, It’s Been Nice Knowing You

I could almost hear Lyle Youngblood’s rich, baritone voice saying those words. I was devastated for Anne. How could I go back to her and tell her I’d carelessly allowed the game to take away the man she loved?

I scolded myself. I should have known better. At the first signs of their budding relationship I should have jumped in and taken steps to “protect” Lyle Youngblood from the merciless game mechanic known as “culling”.

What is culling? Why does it happen?

I’m far from an expert on the game and how it works, but basically culling is a process by which the game ensures that data remains below a certain limit. The “sim limit” I’ve heard was 180, although I believe that’s been increased to 210 now. Either way, it’s a fairly small limit for rotational players like me. What it’s supposed to mean is that my game can only handle a maximum of 210 sims — living and dead. Yep, that’s right. Dead sims count against the total.

I currently have 110 living sims in my game, plus about ten deceased relatives. That should allow me to keep another 100 townie/NPC sims in my household management without fear of culling. Not so. There are obviously other mechanics involved, such as generating NPC sims to fill a variety of in-game roles, such as librarians, gardeners, and maids.

Sometimes the game culls a lot of my townies, and at the same time, generates new ones. For a long time, that made no sense to me. As I’ve gone through my “Townie Project” and have watched a bit more closely, I see the game creating new “NPC” sims to be in-game yoga instructors, or to perform other game occupations. I’ve learned to assign them the same “occupation” the game has chosen for them and then more or less leave them alone. It’s one way to deal with the culling problem.

Note: There are actually two types of culling. Sim culling and relationship culling. You can learn about both in this helpful post at the forum by member Halimali1980:

From Sim Culling to Relationship Culling – What is Going on at EA?

In the earliest stages of my Townie Project, I did lose a lot of townie sims. As I reported in my previous post, it was easy to say good-bye to many of them. Elders died. I was all right with that. Some of the more adventurous sims — flight instructors and sky-divers — died, too, but from accidental causes. That seemed logical. Titania McTeague, as you know if you’ve been reading the project series, was brutally murdered.

But what about all the other sims — young adults, adults, families — who simply disappeared from the game due to culling? How could I best handle the fact that no matter how much time and effort I invested in creating life histories and background information for my townies, a good part of it would go to waste?

My first thought was a reminder that losing people is a fact of life. We’ve all had friends who have moved away. The thoughts and feelings involved could easily become part of a sim’s story, I saw, as I dealt with another unfortunate loss. My “difficult” teen sim, Liam Madrigal, seems to have a destructive streak. Soon after his first crush “moved away” — in other words when her family was culled — he set fire to the house, single-handedly destroyed the family computer, and created much havoc for his frantic parents. Fortunately, since I had several psychiatrists and psychologists in the game — thanks to my Townie Project — he was able to get help.

But Liam’s case was an unusual one. Plain and simple, I didn’t want losing friends and having lovers “move away” to become a regular part of my sims’ lives or part of my usual game play. There had to be a better way.

Here are the simple strategies I’ve devised for dealing with culling in my Townie Project:

  • Safe Houses. I learned early on that if I wanted to ensure a sim’s presence in the game, it was wise to place him, her, or even an entire family onto a lot or move them into a house. Doing this didn’t mean I had to play the household. I still keep my “safe house” sims marked as unplayed. So far, the game has always skipped over these sims during the culling process.

 

Anne finally found true love when her brother's friend, Greg, moved in with them.
Anne finally found true love when her brother’s friend, Greg, moved in with them.
  • Family Guests. Much like placing a sim into a “safe house”, I will occasionally place a “necessary” townie with a family I routinely play. If a young adult sim — such as Anne Sorensen — meets a townie and a relationship seems to be developing, I’ll quickly find a reason to move the townie in. Right now, for example, Anne and her brother, William, have taken in a new roommate: Greg Hoskins. He’s a friend of William’s. He’s now, not surprisingly, also become very good friends with Anne. In fact, they’re looking for a place of their own, and wedding bells will soon be ringing.

 

  • The Library. The best way to deal with sim culling is to save each townie household to my library. Each time I make any change to that household, of course, I have to re-save the family. What this does is to create a cast of “extras” for my sim dramas. Even when they’ve been removed by culling, these sims can remain on my townie list, and I can recall them when I need them to fill a particular role. Dr. London, for example, is a psychologist several of my sims were seeing for therapy. He was culled by the game, but when one of my sims seemed in need of psychological help again, I called him back into the game. As part of my Townie Project, I’ve now given him a wife, and they are expecting their first child soon. I wrote more about this in Part 5: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men? Wish them well. Their marriage isn’t the happiest, but that’s life, right?

Note: It’s also possible to use “mods” to deal with the culling issues. Although I don’t use mods in my game, many players do. The most popular is deaderpool’s “MC Command Center” which will reduce or stop culling. You can learn more about it — and find a download link — here.

In the next — and last — installment of “The Townie Project” I’ll be sharing a few final thoughts about the lives and loves of the townies in my bin, my safe houses, and my library, and those who are currently guests in the homes of my active households.

Thanks to The Townie Project, my townies now have lives of their own, stories of their own, and they’ve added new dimensions to my game.

Coming Soon: Final Thoughts
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