Saturday, December 27, 2008

Apartment Life-But Not Apartments

With AL came many new features including the much coveted "watch children" interaction from neighbors. I wanted all my sims to be able to enjoy this, not just those in apartments. So I created "gated communities" or basically apartments, that are actually homes.

Thus, the sims lease the homes and have all the interactions of apartment living, but also the suburban landscape. In addition to the new interactions, it gave another benefit of freeing up space in my small terrain for more community lots and thus more interactions with different social groups.

The Greymount Pointe community (above) is the luxury community. It's a 3x3 lot with 3 spacious (for my simmies) homes of 3+ bedrooms. The only have a small private back patio (2x5 tiles) but plenty of common grilling space and playground area. It worked out where all my hood council members live here (Kent (three story craftsman home), Herendez (yellow stucco) and Wilsonoff (beige brick)). Their previous homes were on 3x2 and 2x2 lots. They haven't lost any square footage in thier homes, but they're closer to neighbors now.

Apple's Landing also features a 3x3 lot, but four homes with fenced backyards and very little common areas (save a small area of toddler rides). Two homes are two story-3 bedroom, the other two are one story-2 bedroom homes. These homes are cheaper, but still mid-grade. Humphrey (2 story-yellow siding), Warwick (2 story-green siding) and Dawson (one story-beige siding) live here. Previous homes were all 2x2 lots, the only family that lost square footage is the Dawson, but thier old home was too big anyway.

For kicks and giggles, I'm showing the lower level residental lot. It's set up as attached townhomes, 3 tiny bedrooms (I have to use snaptogrid to place the double bed in the largest room). I just love the way they look, though the interior will kill me soon. So I'll probably revamp these with a better blueprint. Shazad and Sweeny live here. Thier previous homes were 2x2. Sweeny is really feeling the crampness of it all as they recently had triplets-yikes! But the IVF treatments and medical bills leave this as the only place they can afford at the moment.

The "gated communities" have all the same issues as apartments. The landlord complains about smells, you hear noises on the walls-even though they're not connected (huh?), neighbors can watch the kids and now I have all this free land space in the hood to build! Whoopie!!!

EDIT: Let's see some of your apartments!

Monday, December 22, 2008

General Playstyle

Apple Valley has had a long history reaching back into the TS1 days (2002). It is a sim-to-sim hood inspired by Simmerville. Since then I've gotten inspiration from Life of a Sim, Isle of Thyme and Lakeside Heights.

Originally Apple Valley was started in 2002 as the old dimensional hood, Greymount. I joined the SUN network in 2003, placed in the 2003 Top Theme Site Awards from SimStash and won numerous Golden Star Awards. More history about the hood can be found here. All of my current sims can trace thier family lineage to a family from TS1.

A key difference with Apple Valley and many other blogs that I follow is that Apple Valley follows the sim-to-sim hood playstyle drawn from Simmerville.. Meaning that I speak through my sims, almost a type of role playing. I actually thought over a period of months about establishing this behind the scenes blog as then I would be stepping from behind my sims and speaking.

Everything that is done in the hood is done by a sim. Buildings are designed by Li Sweeny, the children are educated by Johan Shazad, etc. The website is set up by the sims and they publish the newspaper.

The hood is run by a hood council that collects taxes, manages welfare and makes the big decisions in the hood.

Sim's Background
Life of a Sim provided a template for me to randomize my sim's background and preferences. Would they want to go to university? What major? Would they be good parents? Would they cheat? Are they vegaterians? What clothing style do they perfer? I now have a large excel document with information about each sim. No more perfect A+ students, straight laced families, etc. Now there's a little drama and more diversity. Currently I am working on making the random files a little smaller and easier to manage, ideally something I can manage in-game. I am playing with the idea of five traits-like the sims 3-along with favorite colors. We'll see.

Intergrated Hood
After years of playing the original MAXIS and sim-to-sim playstyle, I stumbled upon Isle of Thyme (now defunct). Isle of Thyme featured an economically intergrated hood where sims paid taxes (this wasn't new to me as my simmies have always paid hood taxes and fees) to a mayor type sim. That sim then used the money to build new projects. Also gone where the MAXIS careers, instead all sims worked for either a business owner, owned thier own business or did seasonal work from home (writing articles, painting, etc). The money that was made changed hands within the community. To further add to this, I cleaned out the hood-no more townies, only one NPC of each kind, etc. Any businesses that were in the hood-grocery store, clothing, etc came from a sim. (The tutorial for setting up a hood like this is on my website)

I only recently-in the last two weeks-moved away from this playstyle. It was too much work for me to have to play so many business lots. It wasn't fun anymore, so now my sims are entering the MAXIS workforce again, but with a slight difference. Each career has a cap, only two sims can be in any career track at a time. I am also allowing townies back into my game, but with a limit of course, I don't want hundreds and thousands of sim files for characters I don't even play.

Real Time-Real Seasons
I always played on a 1 simday rotation to keep my families insync. I struggled with the dynamic nature of the rotation, how can John fall in love with Jane during his rotation and then with Jane's rotation they get married and this is all the same simday! Enter Lakeside Heights and the concept of months! Whoohoo! For more information about real time-real seasons visit Lakeside Heights and read Laura's full explanations.

I still play 1 simday rotations where each simday is equivalent to 1 year. However, now I have months. I "revived" the SimLonic Calendar (see issue 17) with only eight months, since I currently have only nine households (more on that later).

Relationships and Families
For the most part, I "listen" to my sims. If they're attracted to another sim, then we persue them, if not, oh well. The occasional exception is when my sims meet another sim from another sim-to-sim neighborhood, converse on the Simmerville boards and fall in love. (Fredic Kent did this with Gin Hart of Palatial Heights and moved there with her. His twin sister, Fiona, also did the same with Jesse Carr of Eden who moved to Apple Valley). The sim-to-sim nature of my hood allows for families to be spread all over SimNation in other hoods. I think my families have relatives in as many as ten other sim-to-sim hoods and for the most part they keep in contact with each other.

I recently began using ACR and allowing sims to plan thier family size through this concept-yikes, hands off is scary! I am going to change the settings to reflect my current population suggestionof two kids per family.

Random Scenarios
At the beginning of each rotation I roll 2 random scenarios to occur during that rotation. As the population changes I roll more or less than 2 per rotation, but there are only 9 different families so 2 is plenty. Part of my massive Excel document is a ROS page with about 165 scenarios that are a combination of my own thinking, and Isle of Thyme's ROS file. The page randomly selects the scenario and the sim it will happen to.
Small Hood and Space Savers

Many may have noticed that my hood is tiny! I am used to playing the game on a laptop and to spend more time actually playing, I moved away from have over 100 playable sims in my game to having only nine families (about 45-50 playable sims). With this move, I have a smaller terrain for my main hood (Amber's Journey Golden Bay Island) and the largest lot size I use is a 3x3. My subhoods (vacation destinations, university, downtown) are also from Amber's Journey and are equally small.

My hood has recently moved to a desktop again and I have purged my CC files to only recolors of MAXIS objects, hair from Nouk, clothing from All-About Style (some Maxis matching things from MTS2) and a few neccessary hacks from Simlogical, MATY, Simbology, etc. I deleted the MAXIS hoods that come preloaded with the game so that only my custom hood and soap opera hood (Pahala Shore) load. Now it takes maybe 3 minutes to load the game, less than a minute to load the hood and less than a minute to load a family. So what used to take me 1.5 hours to load and play one family (without having them leave the house) now takes me 20 minutes. I'm still giddy with excitement!


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