Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me???

That my pictures were crappy!

I was playing around with some of the ingame settings-since I hate printscreening and then cropping the images, no matter how crisp and large they look. When you have a full time teaching job (which is really a job and a half), husband, cat and social life, the time spent cropping each image adds up to a lot.

Anyhoo, I played around with the settings and now I can see lots of things! Paintings have details! There's a tweed jacket! Did you know sims had toes!!! TOES!!! I didn't!
With the new settings, it's like playing a brand new game! Can't wait to show off the new and improved photos!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Education in Apple Valley, Primary/Secondary

This is a little bit about how primary/secondary education work in Apple Valley.
Education in Apple Valley is very hands on. Currently, the education director owns the school. It is a community lot that stays closed. The director goes there whenever school is in session (he works in the education field as well, so right now we follow him to school M,W,F) and using Simlogical's Meeting Controller, calls the students and the other teacher to the school building.

The school day starts with the primary grades (K-5) working in a common room. They have to pass five skill exams with at least a one (have at least one skill point in five different skills, usually cleaning, cooking, mechanics, creativity and charisma). Since most of them come with the required skill points, they usually play and enjoy interacting with friends, drawing on the activity table or playing for recess. All students bring thier lunch from home (a single serving of a meal, usually lunch sandwiches, soups, or leftovers from dinner).

Junior high students work upstairs in thier room. They must pass seven skill exams with at least a one (at least one skill point in each skill). Any skill they are lacking they study on the computer, with lectures from the teacher (impart knowledge interaction) or interacting with different objects (painting for creativity, dancing for body, etc).

High school students must pass one skill exam with a score of six (six skill points in one skill), so most students chose an area to specialize in and then focus on building skills for that. Any skill they are lacking they study on the computer, with lectures from the teacher (impart knowledge interaction) or interacting with different objects (painting for creativity, dancing for body, etc). High school has two floors and a larger cafeteria with vending machines, for those who forgot thier lunch.

Grades and Skill Exams
Grades are assigned by rolls (11=A+, 10=A...3=C-, 2=D, 1=F), if a student doesn't pass a skill exam, then they fail by default. Students do not have to do homework, since there is no correlation to homework and grades. However, they are assigned projects thier last year of elementary/junior high/high school.

The skill exams are the bare minimum they need to pass to the next level. Of course, most high school students are going to try and have higher grades on thier skill exams in order to get into university (that's another post).

Classes and Field Trips
So what are the students doing if they're not working on skill points (since the requirements are so low) and are not doing assignments (like Simlogical's school hack). Well, they're exploring thier hobbies. Students take classes in different hobbies (painting, photography, pottery, etc) and even have field trips (the musuem for viewing art collections, the park for nature lessons and bird watching, etc).

I plan on having one of the play sessions being a field trip day, so that they can explore thier hobbies in more detail or get exposure. Some field trips planned include:

-Arts & Crafts: trip to the art musuem

-Film & Literature: Trip to the movies (an educational film of course), book discussions by local author

-Fitness: Trip to the park for a tai chi lesson or have a tai chi master come to the school for the lesson, trip to obstacle racing course for team building :P

-Music & Dance: Trip to the concert hall for behind the scenes of the dance company and orchestra

-Games: This is called recess :)

-Nature: Trip to the park for hiking, bird watching and bug collecting. Maybe even an overnight camping trip under the stars. Trip to the aquarium

-Cuisine: This is called lunch :)

-Science: Career Day at the medical center, trip to the observatory

-Sports: This is called recess :P

-Tinkering: Trip to the historical musuem

How does education work in your hood? Is it strictly MAXIS? MAXIS with a storytelling lot? Fully intergrated?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Aging and Celebrations

So in celebration of my birthday, let's talk about aging and other celebrations in Apple Valley.

One simday is equal to one year in the hood, so each age span is as follows:

infant-1 simday (0-1 year)
toddler-4 simdays (1-4 years)
children-5 simdays (5-10 years)
teen-7 simdays (11-18 years)

*young adult-4 simdays (19-22 years)
*if teen decides not to attend university, then they spend an additional 4 simdays as a teen*
adult-29 simdays (23-50 years)
elder-varies (51+)

Birthday Celebrations

I only celebrate the big birthdays in which the sims change life stages. These birthdays are the resident's rites of passages.

Birthdays are usually marked with cake and your family nearby (unless your family is full of workaholics who forgot your birthday causing you to grow up alone in your bedroom, but that's another story).

The 1st birthday includes cake and usually a family only event, unless your family is part of the movers and shakers crowd. The child birthday (5th) includes a guest list of local children so the birthday sim can meet new residents and start making friends. The young adult birthday has no fanfare as this is when the sim enters college, so to my sims, this isn't a big birthday celebration, though entering university is a rite of passage. The adult birthday also include cake, or in some cases a night out on the town with lots of bar hopping and drinking.

The teen birthday is a BIG rite of passage, marking when the child is on it's way to becoming an adult. Depending on the culture of the family it is similar to the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, QuinceaƱera, Seijin Shiki or a Sweet Sixteen party. Parents usually start having "the talk" with the teens, and the teens recieve thier own cellphone (from the hood for free-nice perk!). Of course, the financial status of the family will indicate if the celebration includes a large formal event or simply family members present when you grow up and your favorite meal.

Wedding Celebrations
Weddings are a BIG deal in Apple Valley. I create a custom gown created for the bride (usually I post the gowns at A.Pentragnani) to reflect thier personality and style of the wedding. Anything from African inspired gowns, to glamourous hollywood art deco gowns. Sometimes tuxedos, bridesmaids gowns and accessories like veils, flowers, hats, or purses are made.
Inspiration boards from Style Me Pretty are consulted for the theme of the wedding. These boards help give direction in terms of colors and textures for the reception, types of food, formality of the event and invitations. Yes, invitations. Since Apple Valley is a sim-to-sim hood, a lot of residents have families in other SUN hoods. They are invited to send thier sims to Apple Valley for the event and many times it's a large family reunion.
Sometimes bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties are held depending on the sim and the urgency of the wedding.
Photographers are hired to snap photos of the event. This is a fairly simple process of inviting the photographer (currently Antonio Herendez) to the event and selecting him. He then snaps photos of the event with the personal camera and larger antique camera. These photos are then given to the family and he is then paid a nice fee for his services.
Like all weddings, the formality and expense varies from a large church wedding, to a modest backyard event, to a visit to the courthouse, depending on the sim.
Funerals vary in formality from a simple mourning bewteen the family at the gravesite, to a full memorial service at the church or home with a guest list that rivals a wedding. Black and grey is worn, the mood is somber and snacks are laid out. At the memorial service, the urn of the deceased it displayed for all to mourn it, before it is moved to the cemetary. At the very least, the family has a chance to mourn the loved one.

Other Celebrations
Annivesaries, retirement parties, house warming parties, etc are held as well. This depends on the family and thier financial status. Sometimes a simple dinner out is enough, other times there is a full fledged party that is planned for years.

So, how do you celebrate life's events for your simmies?


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