The Russian Wife Experience

I once had a neighbor many years ago who “bought” himself a wife. Actually, two — but not at the same time, of course. The first was a mail-order bride from the Philippines, which resulted in a marriage that lasted about fifteen years and produced two beautiful daughters. But, all good things come to an end and after all those years, his now-Americanized wife packed up and moved out.

“I think I’ll get myself a Russian wife this time,” the neighbor casually remarked when I saw him one day after their divorce. He said it in much the same way one might speak when ordering a pizza. A bit like “Yeah, I think I want anchovies on it.”

Maybe he lacked social skills. He was a bit of a geek, and overall, my thought is that for him “ordering a wife” online was simply the quickest, easiest way to complete a desired transaction.

By the way, he did, indeed, get a Russian lady for his second wife. That marriage produced a son and lasted for quite some time, although I believe she, too, eventually packed up and left. This was years ago, and I’ve long since lost track of the fellow.

He was on my mind, however, as I pondered what to do with Michael Sorensen, a young adult sim who is living alone for the first time. Michael, you see, comes from a highly dysfunctional family, and if you’ve followed along on my blog for a while, you probably know that when I create sims or age them up, I choose traits for them at random. So it was that when Michael aged up to young adult status, he had the misfortune to get the new “unflirty” trait. It seemed a good addition to his gloomy personality, and certainly seemed to fit right in with his background.

But, as I saw him sitting alone in his new house, I felt sorry for Michael. Everyone deserves a loving relationship, right? I love seeing my sims find that “someone special”, get married, and start families of their own.

Of course, I knew that Michael could never manage this without a little help. It was time for a bit of “player intervention.”

How could I find a wife for Michael and yet make it part of a somewhat “realistic” storyline? As that question ran through my mind, memories of my old neighbor surfaced. Yes, the perfect solution. Michael could “buy” himself a wife.

I suppose I could have easily chosen an Asian townie to play the role, but instead I opted to go with a Russian bride. I quickly went into CAS and prepared to design the perfect woman for Michael. When I clicked “Add Sim” to Michael’s household, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this young lady.

From the moment I saw her, I loved her. To me, she somehow looked exactly as I’d imagined a good “Russian wife” should.

Because she had a very special role to play in my game, I didn’t use my “random factor” to select her traits. I gave her the following:

  • Neat
  • Cheerful
  • Bookworm

Those seemed like good qualities for a wife. I also gave her a “Family Oriented” aspiration. She’s hoping to have a big, happy family.

Finally came the moment of truth. I clicked on Michael’s household and went in to play. I found Galina sitting at the kitchen table. My imagination kicked in, of course, and I could sense her nervousness as she waited to meet her prospective husband for the first time. (In CAS, I left their status as “roommates” to give them a chance to develop an actual relationship on their own.)

Things went quite well. Michael sat down and they began a very pleasant chat. They discussed their interests, they spent time getting to know one another, and they had a few deep conversations. All the wile the specter of Michael’s “unflirty” personality was hovering over the meeting. Did I dare attempt a flirtation?

Finally, I tried. Of course, the best Michael could manage was an “awkward” flirt. I had hoped Galina would be understanding, but it didn’t happen that way. Next, I tried having her flirt with Michael. That was not good. Within a matter of moments, they were well on their way to hating each other. How could I stop this disaster from happening?

Maybe I should set a more romantic mood, I decided. I quickly grabbed an incense burner and soon the sweet fragrance of romantic sandalwood was wafting through the air. It seemed to help a little, but not enough to turn the tide. Even though they were in a flirty atmosphere, I couldn’t get any romance blossoming between them.

I almost gave up. From this experience, my guess is that it’s impossible for an “unflirty” sim to ever find love and marital happiness. I thought of letting them go right on hating each other — their bars were filled with red — but force them into marriage through CAS. After all, arranged marriages don’t always begin with love and affection, right?

Had I done that, I doubt that Michael and Galina could ever have had children, and that was the whole point of the “Russian wife” experience. This was supposed to be an easy, painless way for socially inept Michael to start a family.

So, in desperation I headed back to CAS. I temporarily changed Michael’s nature from unflirty to romantic. Oh, what a difference! It didn’t take long for these two to get things going hot and heavy. Too hot, in fact. While they were kissing passionately the incense caught fire and burned up half the kitchen. Fortunately, Galina had sense enough to grab a fire extinguisher. Once the fire was out, they picked up where they left off and headed to the bedroom for a little woo-hoo.

I figured it was all right to “marry” the couple since they were getting along. I slipped back into CAS again, changed their relationship status to pronounce them husband and wife, and then…yeah, I changed Michael back to his usual unflirty self.

Before I left, I photographed the happy couple at home. They both love reading, so maybe they will be able to make their marriage work.

Michael and Galina at home sharing their love of books.

Now, what will happen when it’s time for them to begin a family? Will Michael be able to actually have a relationship? Or will I once again have to resort to drastic measures to overcome his inability to handle romantic flirtations? Will incense help? Or will that only lead to burning down their house? Will Galina have patience enough to put up with her gloomy husband?

Only time will tell, but for now, the Russian wife has proved to be quite an interesting experience, both for Michael and for me.

 

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Vampires – Should I Bite?

This should probably be an easy decision for me. As a “realistic” style Sims player, I don’t care to have vampires — or aliens, or plant-sims, or werewolves — in my game. And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried those different life forms. They’re not for me.

While playing Sims 2, I did create a few vampires, mostly to see what all the excitement was about. I tried it, I didn’t like it, and afterward, I simply ignored the whole concept of vampirism in my game. I didn’t have a choice, you see. Electronic Arts included vampires in an otherwise fantastic expansion, so like them or not, I had to live with them. I decided I could easily work around — or, well, actually play around — the idea of vampires by considering it a dreadful, deadly disease. Should any of my sims be turned, I would simply declare them to be fatally ill, and that would be the end of the poor sim.

I never had to use that strategy, however, because it never happened. Apparently sims don’t become vampires unless they want to — meaning, of course, unless the player decides to play that way.

During Sims 2, I also had aliens in my game for quite some time. I had, in fact, an entire Alien-Earthling war. We earthlings won, and having decided that I didn’t really like playing aliens, I banished them all back to their home planet far, far away, never to be seen or heard from again.

Plant sims? Werewolves? No thanks. I can do without them.

I did have a few witches in my Sims 2 game, and while I didn’t do much with ghosts I did have a few “Knowledge” sims who loved ghost-hunting. It was actually rather amusing.

But let’s get back to vampires.

They’ve come to Sims 4 in a big way, with an entire game pack devoted to their nocturnal activities.

Sims 4 Vampire

They bring along a new world — Forgotten Hollow — and a few other new things for the game. The complete list of items included can be found HERE as part of the Sims 4 Vampire Guide at VIP Sims.

As I first read through the new gameplay additions, I cringed a bit. Truly, I did.  It’s all about vampires…nothing else! But, what else should I have expected from a game pack called “Vampires”?

New traits include:

  • I Am the Master
  • Regained Humanity
  • A True Master

Nope. Nothing of interest to me there.

How about aspirations:

  • Vampire Family
  • Good Vampire
  • Master Vampire

No! I would never use any of these for my sims.

Lot traits, clothes, club activities, and hairstyles. You guessed it. All designed to complement the vampire life. And as a new skill, sims can learn “vampire lore”. That might be somewhat interesting, but for my sims, probably not.

So, it would seem that this new pack has absolutely nothing — repeat, nothing — to offer me and my sims. It should be easy to “just say NO” and forget about the pack. But, I can’t.

Am I crazy?

Part of it is the fact that as a dedicated simmer, I like my Sims collections to be complete. Whether I personally like a new addition to the game or not, I buy it. That’s how it’s always been in the past. And without exception, I’ve always found something to enjoy with each new expansion, stuff pack, or game pack.

But…vampires? Nothing but…vampires?

Wouldn’t I be wasting money to buy a pack that has nothing I want to use? Well, I could always use a few new lots, and the idea of having a new world is appealing. But then again, I’ve heard that Forgotten Hollow isn’t much.

I had just about made up my mind to forego this game pack, but temptation kicked in again when I saw it on sale. Still, the thought of getting a game pack, installing it, and then hating it makes me nervous. I’ve started questioning my sanity.

Another factor is the “Verdict” from the game review at Sims VIP which says, in part, that while the main point is vampires…”there is enough included that it will be a welcomed addition to your game regardless of how you play.”

The reviewer also allays another concern by assuring players that…”NPC Vampires don’t take over your game and Vampires won’t turn other Sims into Vampires.” In other words I don’t have to worry about any “deadly diseases” infecting my precious simmies.

All of which means I’m back on the fence again. I’m tempted. I’m very tempted. But I’m scared, too. Should I take a chance and purchase Vampires?  Or should I just accept the fact that this game pack isn’t for me and that my game won’t really be lacking anything if I don’t buy it?

I’d love to hear from players who already have the game pack installed. Please, help me make up my mind!

Getting Back to the Game

Until yesterday, the last time I’d played The Sims was in June, 2016. That’s a long, long time. Now, at last, I’m back to my game, and it’s surprisingly difficult!

First, let me explain. I’m sure it seems odd that a devoted Sims player would be away from the game for months at a time, but that’s part of how my life works. I tend to go “all in” with whatever I’m doing at any given moment, so when something comes along to change my direction, other things sometimes get left behind…for a while.

Last June is when I began my new business as a consultant for Perfectly Posh, and I’d be delighted if you visited my website and checked out the great, naturally-based products available. Any questions, please let me know!

But this blog is about playing games, not pampering ourselves. The point is it took a little time to get things going as a new consultant, so I had less time to spend with my sims. Over the last few months other things happened, as well, such as two stays in the hospital and having surgery. But, I’m home. I’m well, and I’m playing my game again.

I was excited to hear about the addition of toddlers to Sims 4, and I have to say that I love these little darlings! I’m crazy about the traits. So far I have one family with a fussy, cranky toddler, another with a very clingy little one, yet another with a most independent little girl, and one family with a real little charmer on their hands.

TS4_Toddlers_video_v1.jpg
I love our toddlers!

Getting back into the game, however, was not as easy as clicking an icon and loading a saved file. Needless to say, my game was woefully out of date. So was my Origin client. It took a long time to update before I could even think of playing.

Next, I wanted to add the City Living expansion pack. I purchased it through Amazon then struggled to figure out how to redeem the digital code. I’ve done it before in the past, but this time…well, I guess my brain just wasn’t working right. I finally did get the expansion downloaded to my game, and that’s when I took a deep breath and clicked the PLAY button.

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For what it’s worth, I’m always a little nervous when I add an expansion or game pack to my Sims. I know from past experience that things can and do sometimes go wrong. Did I have any mods in the game? Or had I removed them? It had been so long since I’d played, I didn’t have a clue. Oh, well. In the end, it didn’t matter. The download worked, my sims now have a new city, and…oh, dear, just how do I actually play this game?

Yep. That’s how it felt. I was a newbie all over again. I wrestled with the camera controls, couldn’t figure out how to rotate furniture, and when I tried to age up one sim, I had no idea how to bake a birthday cake. Could I buy one? Why didn’t my sims have enough skill to make a simple cake? So, yeah, I finally realized it was a Cooking skill, not a Baking skill, and Michael Sorensen aged up to a young adult and moved out on his own.

I couldn’t remember how to enter a cheat code, and then I couldn’t remember what cheat code I was supposed to use to edit a pre-existing sim.  FYI, it’s Control-Shift-C, and the codes are testingcheats true and cas.fulleditmode.

Soon, though, I was thoroughly enjoying my gameplay. As I said before, I adore the new toddlers. I also like the “lot traits” available with the City Living, although I’m not sure if they can be applied to lots in other worlds or not. I’ve read both yes and no. I haven’t figured it out yet.

I’m also having fun with the festivals from the expansion, and I’m looking forward to playing a few families today. It’s great to reconnect with my sims and even better to reconnect with my blogging friends here.

HAPPY SIMMING TO ALL!

Bloomin’ Beauty

news-mud-bath-560x370Since Sims 4 was released in September 2014, a lot of things have been added. I especially love the herbal lore, the wellness skill, and all the spa treats that are now part of the game. For months, my sims have been happily soaking with bath salts, and brewing up many herbal concoctions.

It’s always enjoyable when my sims’ world meshes with my own, and that’s exactly what is happening now. Recently one of my daughters introduced me to Perfectly Posh products — all naturally-based and made with essential oils. I no sooner tried them than I knew I wanted to share these skin care and hair care products with others. So, I became a Perfectly Posh consultant.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing a lot of training. I’ll be working to set up my new website and blog — Bloomin’ Beauty — and I’ll be reading a lot of product literature. I’m excited about my new career as an independent consultant, and I want to get this venture off to a good start.

What that means is that I’ll be taking a short break from Jonathan Chronicles.  Jonathan, Kat, and all the members of the Evans family have been part of my life for many months, and I enjoy sharing stories about them — and about other sims in my game. For now, though, I’ll be on a little hiatus while I build my business.

Jonathan Chronicles will return on September 1, and I hope to see you then. In the meantime, please check out Perfectly Posh either by visiting my Perfectly Posh website or Bloomin’ Beauty. I know you’ll love these products as much as I do.

 

Builder Showcase: Wrayth Manor

Some finds must be shared, and when I came across this gorgeous manor house built by edwardianed, I knew I had to post it here.  I long ago gave up attempting to build any houses in my game. Even a basic “starter house” is beyond my abilities. I’m very grateful to the talented creators in the community who have put together incredible homes like this one.

MTS_edwardianed-1503470-SouthFace

What I like even more is that the builder has given the house a story.

Built in 1893 by industrial logging magnate Sir Montgomery Ashford, Wrayth Manor is an ostentatious monument to a time gone by. Constructed for his late wife Lady Maria Ashford (nee Wrayth) twenty years after their arrival in Sim Nation from the Old Country, Monty wanted a house that would be the envy of everyone who stayed there; and for a time it was the grandest house Willow Creek.

Constructed with the latest in modern conveniences of the time including hot running water and a swimming pool, from all local resources (i.e. no custom content), the house was finally electrified in 1915. Sadly Sir Montgomery was also electrified that year and died leaving his entire estate to his son Edward. Alas despite the considerable family fortune, Edward lost the house in the great Sim City crash of ’29, upon which it was auctioned to the Willow Creek Historical Society.

Now this celebrated piece of local history is back on the market following a nasty law suit brought against the town’s pre-eminent historian; and it can belong to your lucky Sim (provided they have the enormous funds required to maintain it).

You can see the complete floor plan and download this scrumptious Victorian manor at Mod the Sims.

Wyrath Manor

Making Choices

When we’re creating families and living out their lives through our games, it’s sometimes a difficult thing to see them unhappy. I know from reading the discussion boards at EA’s Forum that a lot of players go out of their way to make life easy for their sims.

I’m not one of them.

It’s possible to use cheats to improve a sim’s skills, get job promotions, and add hefty sums of simoleons to the family account. There are also “in-game” tricks — like taking a thoughtful shower for inspiration before a sim sits down to write a novel. Of course, as the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present creator of our own sim world, we can easily step in at any time to intervene when things aren’t going well. I’ll admit to occasionally slipping over to CAS to create a “potentially perfect” mate for a lonely sim, but beyond that, I try — as much as possible — to take a “hands off” approach. I want my sims to have their own lives, to make their own choices, and to accept the consequences of their own behavior. In keeping with that style of play, I mostly sit back, watch my sims, and follow their whims and aspirations as guides.

The result is that I often have unhappy sims. Some, in fact, are utterly miserable. Am I heartless? There are certainly times when I feel sorry for a sim in my game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to jump right in and fix things for him or her. Instead, I’ll shake my head a bit and lament the poor choices and bad decisions that have caused so much misery.

One such miserable sim is Dalton Vaile. I briefly shared a bit of his story before when he and his girlfriend, Janis Melanson, went out on the first “dinner date” in my game. Now, for me, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dalton is degenerate. As an artist, he’s lived a wild, reckless lifestyle, carousing long into the night with his other degenerate artist friends. Think Bohemian lifestyle…to the max.

At one such drunken soiree, he met Eva, a townie whose last name I don’t recall. Somehow I neglected to even note it in my records. I never liked Eva, you see. She had nothing to offer. When she got pregnant and claimed that Dalton was the father, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Dalton was not the marrying kind and neither was Eva. So, I stepped back and let them live their own lives.

At the time the baby was born, Dalton was living with Beatrice Oakes. She was an older woman who’d lost her husband, and she rented a room of her house out to help struggling students. She believed in Dalton and his art, felt sorry for him, and took him in. Of course, when she learned that Dalton had a newborn son, she persuaded him to at least see the child. He did, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from Beatrice, he decided to “do the right thing” and marry Eva. Maybe, in time, they’d come to love one another.

It was a miserable marriage from the start. Eva and little Coleman moved into Beatrice’s home, and for the most part, Eva took full advantage of having a built-in babysitter. Although she was unemployed and did nothing more than sit around, Eva left the care of her son almost entirely up to Beatrice.

More unhappy than ever, Dalton resumed his reckless ways. He flunked out of art school, spent most of the time in a stupor, and fought with Eva every moment they were together. Finally, he divorced her, kept custody of Coleman, and made a desperate attempt to get his life back together. Oh, this man was so miserable.

ColemanHe sunk lower and lower, and finally even the kind-hearted Beatrice could bear no more. She tossed the fellow out on his ear, and little Coleman along with him. Forced now to fend for himself, he rented an inexpensive little house, but couldn’t afford to furnish it beyond the bare necessities.

For several years, he and Coleman struggled. As much as Dalton loved his son, he still couldn’t break free from his old habits, and the little boy spent a lot of time alone, staring at the walls, wondering just where his father might be.

I think the turning point came when Coleman asked for an art table. No way could Dalton afford to buy one, but he sold a few old paintings to scrape together a bit of cash, and even though it meant not paying the rent that month, he bought his son the table he wanted.

Seeing the joy on his son’s face changed Dalton, I think. He started spending more time with Coleman. He started painting again, too. Soon Coleman was making friends and becoming a little more outgoing. Dalton stopped throwing money away on parties, started being a more responsible parent, and even saved enough to fix up the house a bit so that Coleman’s friends could come to visit.

SelfieEventually he met Janis. It was at Magnolia Blossom Park. He was painting there one afternoon when a “Singles Club” came out for a gathering. He and Janis began chatting, exchanged phone numbers, and even took “selfies” together.

Afterward, he nearly missed out, though. He was hesitant to call Janis. Why would she want to go out with a loser like him?

Fortunately, he took the chance and called her.

The relationship has worked out well, and they’re both very happy. Dalton’s ex-wife, Eva, by the way, finally landed in jail for shoplifting, so she’s out of the picture — not that she ever came around that much.

Coleman and Janis get along well, and now, Janis is expecting. Will Dalton propose? I’m hoping he will, but it’s up to him. He’s made many bad choices and wrong decisions over the years, but I think he’s learned a lot about life now. For the first time ever, Dalton Vaile is a happy man. His son is happy, too.

I wish them well.

 

What’s in Your Sim Box?

TS4_KeyartI first asked this question many years ago on the Sims 2 forum, and it was fun to read the answers. Of course, I’ll need to explain what I mean by a “Sim Box”.  Of course, in times past — when we had to actually buy PC games at the store or have them shipped to us through the mail — The Sims came packaged in colorful boxes.

I suppose they still do, actually, but most players take advantage of the convenience of “digital download”.  So, I no longer have a nice little collection of boxes with cover art and disks.

But back in that day, I did keep all my disks and boxes — and all the info booklets and promotional flyers that came with them — neatly arranged in a plastic tub. You know, the kind you buy to store things in. That was my “Sim Box”. But it held a lot more than games.

I used to always buy Prima Guides, too. At times when I wasn’t able to play the game — while traveling, for instance — I’d still enjoy simming by reading the guides and imagining all the things I’d do with my sims the next time I opened the game. I kept those helpful guides in my Sim Box, too.

BlueprintsBuilding homes and community venues has never been a strong point for me, but in the past, I used to try. Yes, I’ll admit, I even bought books showing house plans in hopes of building suitable residences for my sims.

Even with the illustrations though, it still wasn’t easy for me to build houses that actually worked well in my game. They were too big, had too much wasted space, or just didn’t “play well” for one reason or another.

To make my building more successful, I bought pads of graph paper and spent hours drawing out house designs based on plans from the books. The books and the graph paper — along with pencils and erasers — found a home in my Sim Box.

With Sims 4, I no longer have Prima Guides, game boxes, or house plans. Like so many others, I’ve opted for digital downloads, and I’ve given up on building my own houses or other structures. There are too many lots available at the Exchange for me to try making my own. I’m just not good at it. As for the Prima Guide…well, I found a used copy available at Amazon, so I ordered it. It will arrive sometime in the next few weeks. I was actually surprised to find it. I thought Prima had gone the digital route, as well.

Despite the lack of game boxes, guidebooks, and building plans, I do still have a Sim Box, however. I have notebooks filled with game information — lists of traits, lists of careers — and I have notes I’ve downloaded from sites like Carl’s Guides. Of course, once my Prima Guide arrives, I’ll be able to toss a lot of those notes into the trash.

Another little treasure I have in my Sim Box is sheet music for the Sims 2 theme. That was a special offer from EA years ago, and being a musician, I jumped at the chance.

The most important item in my Sim Box today is small and simple. I single six-sided die. I love throwing “random factors” into my game. As storylines develop, I use the die to follow the story in whatever direction fate takes it. When I have “turning points” in a story, I’ll come up with a list of options and then roll the die to see where I’ll go with the story. I use the die to decide whether or not my sims should “try for baby” among other things. As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t play my game without a die close at hand. Even though there’s “Random.org” to help with random choices — and I do use it a lot — it’s much easier to roll a die while I’m actually in the game.

And, for long playing “binges”, I’ll sometimes throw a few snacks into my Sim Box. Then, with everything I need nearby, I can settle in for an afternoon’s enjoyment. Or longer.

So, what’s in your Sim Box?

 

 

Free Perks!

It doesn’t take long for the modding community to go into action once a new game pack or expansion pack is released for Sims 4. Dine Out hit the market on Tuesday, June 7, and the following day devilgirl introduced the “Simstopics Free Restaurant Perks” mod. Let’s just say that my ears “perked up” at the sound of this.

It’s available at Mod the Sims and will allow your restaurant owners to cash in on the in-game perks. You must have the Dine Out game pack, of course.

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For me, running a business in any sims game has always proved difficult. I don’t have any restaurant owners yet, but when I do, I’m definitely going to consider this mod to make their life — and mine — much easier.

A Close Call

Edgar EvansFormer astronaut Edgar Evans is proud to say he now has 22 members of his fan club — all the neighborhood kids. They’re so cute. He loves visiting their little club and talking about his time in space.

Of course, he also enjoys having the current group of NSSA Cadets over to his place and fixing dinner for them. He makes a mess, but his wife, Sara, never complains.

The Evans family did have quite a scare recently, though. Edgar’s wife, Sara, has been spending a lot of time taking care of those exotic space plants the space agency has been studying. A woman working at the agency — Yasmin Grayson — nearly died because of those plants. It seems they’re the cause of an ailment the scientists have named boverde flu.

Boverde Flu Sara got violently ill, and Edgar was afraid he was going to lose her. Fortunately the doctors have now developed a cure for the disease.

Edgar is very insistent that his wife steer clear of those exotic space plants in the future.

And what’s going on with Kat and Jonathan? Why aren’t they having babies? Family is far more important than career, at least in Edgar’s opinion, and Sara is inclined to agree with him. But so far, no news about any little ones on the way.