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.

 

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!

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.

First Dinner Date

Have you got Dine Out yet? I downloaded and installed it yesterday and immediately went into the game to check it out.

Yes, of course I was disappointed that we didn’t have a new neighborhood, so I had to delete an existing venue in order to place a restaurant in my game. For now, I used the pre-made from Maxis, but sorry, folks, while I enjoy llama jokes as much as anyone, I don’t need an elegant restaurant with a name like Chez Llama.

I’d planned to name my first restaurant Blossom Hill after a restaurant I included in Sims 2. I changed that plan, though, when I finally placed the new lot. It’s in the Magnolia Promenade area, so I named it Magnolia Blossom. I’m just going to pretend that Blossom Hill was sold, and the new owners changed its name.

Once I had the restaurant open, I headed for the next family on my rotating play list. It was the household of Dalton Vaile. His girlfriend, Janis Melanson, is living with him, and the relationship is about to get very serious — in a good way. I was playing from her point of view, and she was eager to go out to the elegant new restaurant that was having its “grand opening”.

A bit of quick backstory. Dalton Vaile is a starving artist and single father. His ex-wife is now serving time in jail for repeated shoplifting offenses (this all comes from my townie project). Dalton has struggled financially. Most of the time he and Coleman have barely had anything to eat or money enough to pay the utilities. When he met Janis, he knew he had little to offer. She didn’t care. She was happy to move in with him, and that helped ease the financial burden a bit. When tragedy struck and Janis lost both her parents in an accident while they were off on a safari adventure (another bit that comes from the townie project), she received a nice sum of money as an inheritance. Her relationship with Dalton has deepened considerably since. Now, that’s not to say that he only loves her for her money, but it sure does make life easier.

Since Janis could easily afford the cost of dining out at Magnolia Blossom, she and Dalton dressed in their finest and went out to dinner. Her treat.

Dining at Magnolia BlossomAs far as dates go, it was all right. There were, however, a few little problems. When they arrived at the restaurant, one of their first “successful date requirements” was to be seated at a table.

I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I saw what looked to be a hostess or maitre’d and instructed Janis to speak to him. She did. She hurried into the restaurant while Dalton stood out on the street by himself.

Really, EA? This was a date. You know. Two people going out together.

I was relieved that Dalton did join Janis. Now, how were they supposed to order? Somehow I clicked the right place and a menu appeared. Honestly, the whole “ordering process” confused me. I stumbled around with it and finally ordered drinks and salads — the same for both of them — and I intended to order a main course. Oops, the menu disappeared.

Note: I did post a question about this on the Forum – Ordering Food

Apparently we have to order in stages. But it’s a moot point, perhaps. My sims got their drinks, but nothing else. And that’s when the musical chairs began. Instead of spending time with Dalton, lovely Janis was up and about, drink in hand, chatting with diners at other tables. I had a terrible time getting her to sit down and have those deep conversations she and Dalton needed if they wanted this date to be a success.

The “to-do” checklist also told me my sims should “socialize about meal”, but I couldn’t find any options for that, probably because the meal never came…which, of course, was because I never had a chance to order a main course!

Before I knew it, the date was over. Janis and Dalton received flowers as a reward — not sure what date-level that is — and I took them back home. For what it’s worth, they were both in a most romantic mood, and Janis is now expecting a visit from the stork. I’ll probably have them get married, and Dalton is thinking maybe they should get a bigger house. Yes, it’s good to have a little money in the bank when you need it.

But, back to Dine Out. So far, I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the game pack, but neither do I totally hate it. Based solely on my experience — with one household and one restaurant — here are my likes and dislikes:

Likes

  • Getting a table was fairly simple.
  • We can set “dress codes” for a restaurant.
  • The drinks my sims ordered arrived promptly.
  • The restaurant had lots of other sims dining — in different age groups.
  • Family sims did sit together.
  • We can choose the name for our restaurant.
  • We have customization options for the staff and for the menu.
  • Dining out is reflected in the “checklist” for a date.
  • Paying for the meal is convenient.

Dislikes

  • We have limited choices for restaurant type.
  • Ordering food is confusing and/or not working as it should.
  • Sims are socializing more than dining.
  • No new neighborhood included in the pack.

That’s my quick assessment, but that’s based on a very limited play experience. Later today I’ll go into the game again and “dine out”.

For me, the biggest problem is the lack of a new neighborhood. I’d love to have a diner or two, and a seafood restaurant would be nice — that’s one of the choices we have. But I have nowhere to build any additional restaurants. For my sims, the new Magnolia Blossom restaurant is their only dine-out option. That’s a disappointment.

What have your experiences been? Are you enjoying the new game pack? What are you likes and dislikes? Found any bugs in the food?

 

 

 

Dining Out

Only two days remain before the release of the next Sims 4 game pack, Dine Out.

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We’ll be able to build restaurants for our food-loving sims and actually run them as businesses. Families will have opportunities to dine out, celebrate birthdays and special occasions, and young sims in love can add dining out as another date-night activity.

At least, I think we’ll be doing all those things. To be honest, I’m always a bit skeptical until I get my hands on a new game pack or expansion pack. I need to see for myself what we can and can’t do. Sometimes, I’ve found, EA’s promotions and promises aren’t quite all they seem.

That said, let’s look at the reasons why EA says we should be excited for this new addition to the game.

Experimental Food

Oh, boy. I’m not sure how I feel about this one.  A “Jungle Moss Egg with Lavender Wisps”? OK, if you say so. Honestly, I’d rather have a game that lets me create my own experimental foods or add my own recipes, but some of these dishes could be fun. They’re “photo-worthy” according to Grant Rodiek, and our sims will be able to take pictures and hang on the walls. Great, I guess. Not something I do in real life, but this is a game, after all. What bothers me, though, is the note about “collecting” all these dishes — another achievement to be earned by having a sim try out every experimental food item. I’m not a fan of this style of gameplay. But we’re also promised new moodlets and new social options. Experimental foods will be interesting, to say the least.

Dining Experiences

Grant also assures us that we’ll have “varied dining experiences”, and that would be a definite plus — especially for a simmer like me who plays multiple families. I need variety in the experiences the game provides for my many sims. In addition to the new moodlets introduced in the game pack, there will also be new activities for kids. I don’t know if these will be available only in restaurants, or if any of these activities will carry over to other venues. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Customizable Restaurants

Now, this aspect of the game pack has definitely piqued my interest. What I love most about simming is the opportunity to put my creativity to work…er, that is, to put it to play. For me, The Sims has always been a creative outlet, and I love the idea of making restaurants my own. We can choose names, choose the sort of ambience we want, dress the staff as we choose, and set our own menus. It sounds great, and now I’m wondering how many perverted fellows out there will be designed restaurants with naked servers. Hey, it’s possible!

Ownable Restaurants

Now, here’s the one I’m not too wild about. Oh, it’s not that I don’t like the idea of my sims becoming restaurateurs — I love that idea — it’s just that I’m not sure I’ll like EA’s ways of implementing it. Electronic Arts tells us that we can hire, train, and inspire the staff, and even compensate customers for bad service. They then go on to compare owning a restaurant to careers from Get to Work — which is not a favorite of mine. The retail system in Sims 4 leaves a lot to be desired. My personal feeling is that owning and operating a restaurant in the game will most likely be very frustrating. I want my sims to enjoy owning a restaurant. I want to be able to enjoy it, too.

New Objects

This game pack will provide us with a lot of new decorative content, and that’s always fun. I haven’t yet seen a list of items, but I’m hoping they’ll be available for use not only in restaurant venues, but also in home settings. If not, of course, I’m guessing there will be cheats to make them buyable for every location.

Pre-Made Restaurants

We’ll have six pre-made restaurants we can add to our game, and this is great for those of us who aren’t good builders. I’m sure I’ll make use of these lots. Of course, the talented builders from our simming community will have lots of great restaurant lots on the exchange. It will be exciting to see them. I’ll be showcasing restaurants from time to time. I know there will be some great ones.

So, it sounds interesting, but there are a lot of questions in my mind. Will we have a new neighborhood? If not, where are we going to put these new restaurants? Will using fresh vegetables and herbs increase the quality of food served? Will we have new NPCs — such as the “restaurant critic” some have suggested? Will we be able to use restaurants for “club activities” in Get Together? Will different types of restaurants generate a different type of “townie clientele”? Will restaurants have “dress codes”?

Each time a new game pack or expansion pack is released, the simmers in EA’s forum go wild with speculation, imagining this, that, and everything else in the upcoming pack. Usually the reality falls far short of their expectations. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay little attention to EA’s hype and to avoid thinking too much about what I’ll do in the game until it actually arrives and I can see for myself what the new pack includes.

Still, I am excited for the release of Dine Out. How about you? Will you be getting the game pack on release day? Or will you wait to read the reviews from other players before you spend your hard-earned dollars?

 

High Fives!

Have you ever had a sim you hated? You know, the sort of sim who’s just a real jerk? I’ve had some rather unpleasant sims over the last 16 years, sims whose outlook on life diverged greatly from my own, but of them all, I think the sim I most disliked was a fellow named Ethan Turner.

He was part of my Sims 2 game and came from a very solid, very established, very well-to-do family… although, to be honest, I never cared much for them, either. Let me begin by reminding you that I have quite a vivid imagination, and I include a lot of elements in my game that don’t really exist. I create backstories for my sims, give them different occupations that EA would ever include, and build stories around them that often go far beyond the confines of the game.

And so it was with Ethan Turner’s family.

BVBefore I get to Ethan himself, I have to begin with a pair of little old ladies — twin sisters — who were desperately looking for love. One was widowed, her sister divorced, and eventually they both did find husbands. One married a former professional wrestler — I’ll share his story someday — and the other finally found true love while vacationing on a tropical isle from Bon Voyage.

Robert Turner was a prize catch — at least as far as money was concerned and that was one of the things this lady loved most about him. He was filthy rich. How had he made his millions? Well, Robert Turner was also known as “the Porn King.” Yes, he was the man behind all those “Girls Gone Wild” videos, which was why he spent a lot of time on those sunny beaches. His hot movies were phenomenal sellers. Now, he was widowed, lonely, and looking for love, too.

It was a good marriage. Both Robert and his new wife were elders, by the way. I’d already given her a few family members, and now I created Robert’s children, quickly aged them up “off-screen”, so to speak, and then gave them children as well, so that the family structure would be appropriate for a man of Robert’s age.

Ethan was one of the grandchildren. He and his parents lived with Robert in a very beautiful mansion, complete with maids and a butler. He was privileged, he was spoiled, he was, he was handsome, he was charming. Yes, Ethan Turner had a perfect life.

But, truthfully, Ethan was a jerk. I didn’t see it so much when he was younger, but after he met and married a very sweet young girl, his true colors began to show. He’d moved out on his own, had bought a gorgeous home with a huge pool and all the amenities, and he threw huge all-night parties with lots of liquor and food. He was wild, he was crazy, he was rich, and he could do whatever he pleased.

That was when he met Kimmie. Sweet. Shy, Innocent. She was the total opposite of Ethan, so I was surprised when a relationship developed between them. He married her, and for a brief time, they seemed happy together.

But then Ethan quickly got tired of his quiet wife. He started partying again, spent a lot of nights out on the town — with other women — and didn’t really care what little Kimmie thought. She, of course, was too meek to even confront him.

Ethan’s behavior worsened. Even his own family began to realize what an insensitive jerk he was. And then, one night, Kimmie invited friends over for dinner. Ethan, as usual, was being rude and disagreeable. Nobody paid much attention to him, though. These were Kimmie’s friends, and they didn’t care much for her loud-mouthed husband.

And then it happened. Somehow Ethan managed to set the kitchen on fire, and I watched from afar as the dinner guests quietly left the scene without bothering to help the burning fellow. They amicably chatted outside while Ethan went down in flames, and then as the Grim Reaper appeared, these guests high-fived one another.

I’m not making this up, folks. They high-fived. At that point, I had to wonder…was it really an accident that cost Ethan Turner his life?

In many ways, the death of Ethan Turner reminded me a little of a true-life crime that happened here in Missouri. Maybe you’ve heard of — or seen — the film In Broad Daylight. It tells the story of a town “bully” who finally got what was coming to him. To this day — the bully was murdered in 1981 — no one has come forward to reveal who was responsible. The townspeople have remained united in their silence.

And so it was in my little town of Cedar Point. Ethan Turner’s untimely demise was simply listed as a most unfortunate accident. Little Kimmie received a large insurance settlement and went on to live a long and happy life.

High fives, folks, all around!

Fresh Strawberries

Just had to write this post so I could show off a few of the beautiful berries we’ve been picking from our strawberry patch!

Berries

We’ve been picking — and enjoying — dozens of these strawberries every day. We’re definitely having our best crop of berries ever!

I do enjoy gardening, and I’m glad it’s a skill that my sims can learn, too. Not every family in my game has a garden, but many do. Some of my sims are actually quite passionate about the fruits and flowers and vegetables. I even have sims who make a living from their gardening abilities.

Strawberries in the game are, unfortunately, an uncommon fruit — which means that they’re a little more difficult to find. You can’t purchase seeds in starter packs, so if you want fresh berries, you’ll have to go out looking for them. According to Carl’s Guide to Gardening, you should be able to find strawberries growing in Willow Springs on the “Garden Essence” lot.

Gardening was first introduced to The Sims with the Unleashed expansion pack, and it’s been part of each game since. Personally, I think the gardening skill in Sims 4 is the best it’s ever been. And just as in real life, gardening skills and cooking skills can go hand in hand.

Your sims can use fresh strawberries to make lots of delicious dishes:

  • Strawberry pancakes
  • French toast with strawberries
  • Strawberry cobbler
  • Strawberry and yogurt parfait
  • Strawberry cheesecake
  • Monte Christo sandwiches with strawberries
  • Strawberry baked Alaska

I make many of these dishes in my kitchen, and with fresh fruit, they are delicious!

If your sims haven’t been having fun in the garden, why not get started today? My one frustration is that children can’t learn gardening skills, but the rest of the family can enjoy the activity and gain health and happiness benefits from eating the fresh produce.

And don’t forget about the new Dine Out Game Pack which will be released on June 7. Happy eating!

Dine Out

The Medieval Mistake

Ok, so I’ve been on a medieval-themed kick lately. It started when I found Esmeralda’s medieval music mods. That was all I needed to get myself off on a 14th or 15th century tangent. Actually, to be precise, the medieval period — sometimes called the Middle Ages — is considered to begin in the 5th century AD and extend through the 15th century.

I love medieval music, as you’ve probably already noticed, and like many other history lovers, I’m fascinated by the art, architecture, fashion, and politics of those long-ago times. It’s understandable that fans of The Sims franchise would clamor for medieval-themed content, and consequently logical that game producer Electronic Arts would attempt to capitalize on the idea. It probably could have been a real money-maker for them…had they listened to what the players wanted.

SMInstead, as EA has done so often in recent years, they told us what we wanted. Or, at least, that is, what they thought we wanted. The result was The Sims Medieval. Was I excited when they announced it? Oh, yes, of course. Although I had never added medieval elements to my existing game, I would have gladly plunked down the money for a chance to have a separate “Middle Age” world. Yes, EA, I would have bought this new game and enjoyed it had you stayed with what “simming” is meant to be. But, no, you had to step in and take away the elements that we love our sims.

Earlier today I looked at the “features” included with The Sims Medieval, and there, in black and white, I saw it. The medieval mistake. The reason why the game did not succeed was clearly spelled out.

The Sims Medieval is an epic new game from the makers of The Sims. It combines the life simulation of The Sims, takes it to a dramatic new setting, and adds features that change the way you play.

Did you catch those last five words? EA was going to change the way we play. But…why, EA, why? We simmers loved playing our game in our way. We had asked for a medieval concept for The Sims — not for a half-baked role-playing game designed to look like The Sims.

Limited CAS, children who aged to adults only if a parent died, an emphasis on achievements and quests, and an ultimate “win or lose” status took this game far afield from what “The Sims” has always been. And like a slap in the face to players, EA tried to sell us this game and tell us how much we were going to like it.

The game’s senior producer promoted the game as being “more dangerous for Sims” and listed an intriguing number of interesting possibilities: plague, peasant revolts, wildlife, poisons, duels, and more. But then, we learned that — unlike any other sim game — The Sims Medieval had a definite beginning and an ending. Players would be “scored” on their game performance.

What? Keeping score in a life simulator? Oh, wait! The Sims Medieval isn’t a life simulator. That’s not how we’re supposed to be playing our game now according to EA, and they should know, right? Seriously, we’re just the players. We obviously don’t know what we want.

The game was first released in March, 2011, and one expansion pack — Pirates and Nobles — was later produced. Today, The Sims Medieval is available as a download from Origin as Electronic Arts has discontinued the DVD version. It can, however, still be purchased through third-party sellers. You’ll find it listed at Amazon. There are problems, though, running it on operating systems other than Vista or the no-longer-supported Windows XP. Work-arounds for the problems do exist.

Some players praised the game when it came out, but others soon lost interest in it. A reviewer at Amazon said it had “very little play value,” and explained:

If you’re the type who likes to check off tasks one by one, you might like the questing aspects. There is no creativity involved here. The quests are a series of tasks like “Go to the town marketplace and get water from the well.” Very boring to actually play. I would have liked to back-burner the quests to do a little free play, but you are punished for that with a severe drop in mood. You are also punished if you skip your daily chores. Seriously, chores! Others have addressed the lack of ability to actually build your town. Talk about no outlet for creativity or imagination.

Creativity and imagination are the foundations upon which “The Sims” was built. Creativity and imagination are the hallmarks of the typical sims player. These are the essential elements that EA took away from the game. In doing so, they turned a great concept into a huge disappointment — for the fans and for them as well. The Sims Medieval never became the big money-maker they’d expected but simply turned into one more big mistake.

 

 

 

More Medieval Music

MTS_Esmeralda-1621346-Miserableoutdoorconcert2I recently shared Esmeralda’s “medieval lutes” for Sims 4, and she’s continuing her creations of more instruments for our musicians to enjoy. Today I’m happy to share her “Vielle”, a medieval violin. You can bet that Jonathan Evans is eager to get his hands on one of these finely-crafted beauties.

The Vielle can be downloaded from Mod the Sims, and you’ll find complete installation instructions there.

To complete your musical orchestra, you might also want to check out Esmeralda’s Medieval Piano, also available at Mod the Sims.

Enjoy making music with these fun creations.