Posted in Gaming, Sims 3

Sims 3: Fist-Fighting a Mummy

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So, as I continue my playthrough of Sims 3 with only the World Adventures expansion installed, I’ve decided to concentrate on my progress in Egypt. My goal is to earn the highest level of Visa in the country, which is 3. I have to do that by completing quests and adventures.

The reason I chose Egypt was that there’s actually a bit of a storyline going on here. On one hand, you have the “rebellion” of the locals who are fighting back against the nefarious MorcuCorp. You start out helping the locals in retrieving three relics before MorcuCorp can get a hold of them.

This sends you to numerous crypts and pyramids, including some that have dangerous mummies. The last time Lawrence came to Egypt and saw a mummy, he got the aspiration to beat one up. I did the research and learned that a combination of a “certain level” of martial arts and athletic skills could make that happen. So I started working both of those skills up before returning.

He came back to this crypt and got into a scuffle with the mummy….

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Who promptly kicked his tail.

Oh well. I guess he needs to keep working on those skills. Thankfully, Lawrence only blacked out and didn’t get cursed from the experience.

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Heading back into the crypt, Lawrence was faced with all sorts of traps and situations… such as hacking into the MorcuCorp headquarters computer.

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He’s a little toasty here from hitting a flame trap, but he’ll live.

This time, River came along with her husband. I found it too hectic to try and keep up with quests for more than one Sim at a time, though, so Lawrence is probably going to solo trip adventures from now on.

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I have no idea what they’re eating here. It looks like Lawrence is roasting a bunch of hot dogs and a head of lettuce…

Back at the Homestead

Returning home… Theodore Lum has lived out his life in full and passed on to the spirit world. Lawrence is now the head of the Lum family.

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Colet ages up to a quite bald toddler, and because River wanted another child, they had a daughter named Trinity.

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For disliking kids, Lawrence does treat his own right.

He also brought back enough pieces of a sarcophagus to build one for his home. It’s a bit odd to see in the master bedroom… and it’s even more odd that Sims randomly go and sleep in it sometimes.

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Thankfully, sleeping in this “Blessed” sarcophagus doesn’t turn you into a mummy. It is pretty cool furnishing, though.

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Posted in Gaming, Sims 3

Sims 3: World Adventures Continue

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So, I’m continuing my Sims 3 playthrough with very few mods and only the World Adventure expansion installed. The more time I spend with this expansion, the more I’m glad I did try it out. While I still think replayability might be low for some folks, the locations I’m visiting are becoming more exquisite (like the picture above) and the puzzles are growing more tricky and fun to solve.

Lawrence Lum is now an adult and is my chosen adventuring Sim. I like that time stops for him and all Sims while he’s away in distant locations. This gives him a greater lifespan to enjoy days abroad exploring places without missing work or special life events. Not that he has a job… because at this point, exploration brings in a good bit of money.

Back at Home

Though adventuring is my major focus, I do want Lawrence to have a family to continue the Lum line. So, after he became an adult and proposed to River, he and both his parents started getting aspirations of Lawrence marrying her. I took that as a hint, and invited River over for the official wedding. Only… time hadn’t been so kind to her, and she had put on a bit of weight since the last few Sim days Lawrence saw her.

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Lawrence loved River regardless (or maybe it was that she put up with him), so I set them to have a private house wedding. There’s no wedding arch item in game yet (I looked and looked, only to find that it wasn’t introduced until the Generations expansion!), so exchanging rings in the living room would have to do.

Apparently the other Sim doesn’t switch into formal wear — maybe I had to make this a Wedding Party? — but at least River’s mummy t-shirt was relevant to Lawrence’s interests.

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Theodore Lum is now at the top of his career level, and has really created a nice little surplus of money for his growing family. But time is passing, and he becomes an Elder.

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With Lawrence’s parents aging, and him now being married, he’s under pressure to provide some grand kids. The one catch is that though River is a family-oriented Sim and loves lots and lots of kids, Lawrence has a “Dislikes Kids” trait, which means he detests the whole kid thing.

I guess he’s in for a miserable family life. Sorry, Lawrence. Meet his son, Colet (random name generator).

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See that smile? Lawrence is really good at concealing his dislike, but his moodlet section in game told me otherwise. Why is it that I always see this as something like this internally…this-is-fine

In the meantime, I’ve been having River get into shape since she wants to accompany Lawrence on one of his trips abroad.

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I’ve also bought her a guitar since she’s an artistic Sim and wanted to express herself musically.

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I let Lawrence hold on to his aspiration to beat up a mummy, and he’s been practicing his martial arts for the day that comes…

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Soon, Lawrence. Soon.

At least he can now meditate and try to clear his mind of the sound of a crying newborn. 😀

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Posted in Gaming, Sims 3

Sims 3: World Adventures

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As I previously wrote, I’m going back to play the Sims 3 expansion by expansion as vanilla as possible. The idea behind this is that I don’t feel like I spent enough time with these expansions back when they first released.

This week, I put about 7 hours into messing around with the Sims 3 base game with only the first expansion, World Adventures, installed and minimum mods. I was quickly stricken by how barebones Sims 3 was, even with one expansion. Folks who complained about the lack of content of base Sims 4 really didn’t remember how few options we had at Sims 3 launch. Man, the hair selection really needed help.

I also realized that…

I’ve Been Spoiled by Sims 4

It’s been so long since I’ve played any Sims game aside from Sims 4 that coming back to Sims 3 was an adjustment. I’m not just talking about the UI (which I actually find easy to use) or graphics.

The Sims 4 has really simplified (I’m tempted to say dumbed down) gameplay for the series. I did miss the cool Sims 4 features, such as being able to just drag rooms to make them larger. But I completely forgot that in order to fill my Sims’ needs in Sims 3, I had to manually interact with them.

Yeah, I’m kinda laughing about that. I actually have to… you know… play the game in Sims 3.

In Sims 4, if your Sim is hungry, you can click on the fridge and pick a meal for them manually. But you can also just open up the needs panel and click on the Hunger stat, instructing that Sim to go to the fridge and automatically take care of themself. And they do.

There were other things that were somewhat easier in Sims 3, though… like moving up the career track. I hardly had to work at getting my Sim to the highest level of the business track. Now he’s making big money.

Starting Out

So, to start with, I just grabbed one of the random Maxis-made families, the Lum family.

screenshotDon’t they look just thrilled to be the chosen ones?

I didn’t want to get distracted by Create-A-Sim, and I probably would have been frustrated with the lack of hair options anyhow, so I just snagged the first family that looked easy enough to play. I didn’t want to deal with kids or babies, but a teen like Lawrence gave me some time and leeway to somewhat develop a younger Sim as I wanted.

I moved them into the cheapest lot with the most extra room to build, Shotgun Style.

I put Theodore straight into the business career, which he very quickly progressed in. I guess his schmoozer trait was a good fit.

His wife, Lily, has a bit more trouble progressing because not only is she a snob, but she’s also mean spirited. She ends up turning people off more than anything else. But I did get her to slowly progress in the scientist career.

While the parents are out making money, my real focus is on their son, Lawrence.

Since I want to play with the features within the World Adventures expansion, as soon as Theodore got a challenge to travel abroad, I sent Lawrence along with him. Their first stop was France.

Exploring Cultures and Ruins

One neat feature of this expansion is that visiting other countries allows your Sims to learn and bring back pieces of cultures, such as songs. They can also teach other Sims these things. I made sure to teach Lawrence as many songs and gestures as possible. I love how he now sings these songs when taking showers and such.

The major addition brought by World Adventures is, obviously, the adventure system. This is a series of quests you can launch from the adventure board next to the home base. These quests sends you out to complete objectives from other Sims, often sending you into crypts and ruins.

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Making your way through ruins is mostly about clicking stuff and working through minor puzzles and traps. The most dangerous part of crypt exploration is running into a mummy. If attacked by a mummy, your Sim can be stricken with a curse that will eventually cause death if not cured.

Interestingly, if your Sim has enough athletic and martial arts skill points, they can actually fight and beat up the mummy. After seeing his first mummy, Lawrence got it into his head that he wanted to beat one up. So I had to send him to China to get him started on his martial arts skills, also another feature added to this expansion.

screenshot-16If I were a mummy, I’d be scared of that.

You can also become a mummy, though it sounds really annoying…

Mummies move incredibly slowly, and thus will limp from location to location.

So I don’t really have any desire to have Lawrence become one. Besides, he just got engaged to another pre-made Sim, River McIrish, and there’s no Lum kids yet. That would kinda be a bad move to end the family legacy so soon.

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There are a few other neat systems that come along with exploration. One is the visa system. Your Sim’s visa begins to level up as you complete adventures and tasks in a country. This allows them to stay abroad longer and purchase items from the Special Merchant (yes really) using Ancient Coins. Most of these items help make adventuring easier.

I also know you can buy a vacation home in another country once you get a high enough visa. I gave Lawrence the Adventurous trait once he aged up to help speed up this process.

So, honestly, this expansion does give a good bit of content to play through and earn. It’s kinda a bummer that the visa only pertains to one Sim in your family (though ancient coins are shared by the household). It also seems like each Sim has to progress through the same quests and ruins every time. These aren’t randomly generated, so if you’ve done them once, you’ve done them.

Right now, my goal is to work up Lawrence’s visa as much as I can, progress through the quests, experience the ruins, and see if I can’t earn a holiday home for the family. Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of the fact that his parents are at the top of their career ladders, and that he has a fiance waiting in the wings.

Seven hours in, and there’s still a lot left for me to see. So I’d say this is a pretty good sized expansion despite the lack of replay-ability.

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Posted in Gaming, Sims 3

Sims 3: Time Locked Progression

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Okay, yeah, I know that Sims 3 isn’t a MMO that can have a legit Time Locked progression server. But the idea behind it is very similar.

While I still enjoy the Sims 4 very much, I was eyeing Sims 3 in my Origins library this past weekend. I was thinking about it and realized that though I own all the expansion packs, I didn’t spend a lot of time with them individually.

I’d buy an expansion pack, and mess around with it for a few days before putting it down again. Then, when the next expansion came out, I’d do the same thing. Only, I still had all that content from the previous pack I had never fully explored. After 11 expansions, that started to add up until there was just so much content that I could never fully experience it all, and it all started to get jumbled together in my mind.

Heck, I didn’t even remember there was an Island Paradise expansion… beyond the knowledge of the fact that we had houseboats. I believe that Pets and Into the Future were the only expansions I spent significant time with. I still feel like there’s a lot I haven’t done with the pet system, too.

Therefore, I have decided that I’m going to go back and reinstall The Sims 3 one expansion at a time and play until I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grip on what each expansion had to offer. I’m going to try to play it as vanilla as possible — I remember my previous version of Sims 3 was heavily modded with way too much custom content. I might install a few things, but overall, my concentration will be on exploring expansion features to the fullest. I’m even planning to start with a Maxis pre-made family for this experiment as to not get too distracted by making my perfect family.

So, to begin, I’ve installed the base Sims 3 and the first expansion, World Adventures only. And though these are both 7 years old, I hope to blog review my experiences with them as I go along.

~♪ Sul Sul!

Posted in Gaming, Sims 3, Sims 4

The Sims Celebrates 15 Years & Announces First Sims 4 Expansion

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Happy 15th anniversary to The Sims!

Where were you when the original Sims was released? I can actually answer that.

I worked part-time as a sales associate at my local Electronics Boutique (which eventually merged into Game Stop… but I will always remember it as EB). The assistant manager started raving about this great new game called The Sims. I remember standing behind the counter as he described what the game was about – something so simple, yet so unique for the time. Then I remember going to the shelf with him to look at the box.

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I remember buying it that day without hesitation. Thus, my 15-year semi-addiction to Sims began.

Since then, I have purchased every game and expansion pack released. I never got into the stuff packs, though. And while I have questioned some of the monetization of this series (never got into the Sims 3 store items, either), it’s hard for me to pick a series that has brought as much joy and laughter as The Sims has over this many years.

Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat Quickie Review

Sims 4 Outdoors Retreat
Sims 4 Outdoors Retreat

I never got around to writing that review I wanted to write for Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat. So I guess, I’ll talk about that really quickly here. I feel that the price for what is termed a “Game Pack” was on point – $20 for an additional neighborhood and all the interactions, items, personalities, and new skills sat well with me. While this was no game-changer by any means, it was a nice way to expand on the original base game by providing new content that sits outside of an expansion pack.

I saw Outdoor Retreat as something to give sims to do with the vacation time one of the earlier free patches added to the game. I did have a lot of fun decorating my camping lot and sending a family to vacation there. Sims can’t live there permanently. It’s a pure vacation neighborhood.

I think game packs will become somewhat like better and more robust stuff packs. If you like the pack’s topic, then you pick it up. If it doesn’t interest you, then just by-pass it. To me, more options are a good thing, just as long as the quality of the options remain high.

Sims 4 Genealogy

The newest free patch for the Sims 4 brought the release of genealogy to the base game. The lack of family trees was one of my major complaints of something I felt was very important that was omitted at the base game. However, for those crying “It should have been in at release! Q_____Q!” … Well it’s there now, for free. So hush about it. :p

Sims 4 “Get to Work” Expansion Pack

The biggest surprise this week was the announcement of the “Get to Work” expansion pack. No, a Sims expansion pack isn’t surprising. But getting the first expansion pack not so long after the base game release is pretty eye-brow raising. Especially since the release date says April.

Looking at the content of this EP, I now see why. It’s all about more interactive careers and sims owning shops and such. This is stuff that was very likely being worked on alongside the base game development. Seeing that my second biggest complaint was that the base game omitted some of the standard sims jobs, such as doctors and scientists, I now understand better why that choice was made.

Though I hesitate a bit at the cost of the pack – $39.99 – I welcome the kind of gameplay this pack is offering. The community response has overall been positive. That’s because this pack hearkens back to a fan favorite Sims 2 EP “Open for Business” and seems to mix it up a bit with another Sims 3 EP, “Ambitions.”

I might be confused, but I still remember Sims 3 EP being priced more at the $29 mark, though. Right? I’ll probably get this – or ask for it for my birthday 🙂  – but this will be the testing grounds for Sims 4 EP for me. If I don’t feel like the higher $39 price point is worth the content I get, I’ll be holding off on future expansions until sales hit… or unless they really appeal to me.

Posted in Gaming, Sims 3

Sims 3: Upping My Game

sims3logoRight on the edge of official announcements for the upcoming release of Sims 4, I find myself lately rediscovering Sims 3 in ways I never have before. This is mostly due to finding the community of Sims folks who share experiences and content through Tumblr. These people often call themselves Simblrs, and the Simblr tag is an amazing array of story, images, downloads and all things that makes a game like Sims 3 flourish.

I look at their amazing fashion and screenshots, look at my paltry images for Time Travel Tuesdays, and knew instantly I’ve been doing it wrong. However, it took me the better part of weeks to learn what they have that I don’t. Most of those are mods.

Before I work through this list of discovered mods and methods, I’d like to note that I have a fairly new and powerful computer that has no issue running Sims at highest settings, even with HD mods. Not everyone can do this, and it’s only something I suggest if your hardware can handle it.

Modding Madness

After lurking around the Simblr tag for a while, I discovered much of the beauty of their work comes from a combination of mods, custom content, poses and photoshop work. I wanted to gather a list of Sims 3 mods that have really made the difference in my game and screenshot quality.

NRaas – I’m going to throw this out there at the top of the list as mods I’ve known and used for years, and simply can’t play without. Especially Master Controller, Overwatch and Story Progression. To some, it may be cheating, but to me, it gives me the flexibility to alter the game in ways that makes it more fun for me. Plus, when glitches arise, these mods can help reset stuck Sims and restore lost Sims.

simphotoHQ Mod – This is the biggie, the High Quality mod that makes all the difference. This is not something you should run constantly unless your computer can handle it. But if you want beautiful screens of high quality sims, this is what you’re looking for. Here’s a wonderful tutorial that got me started.

Base Skins – There’s not much point in making your sims look high quality if you’re using the sub-par default skins. There’s lots of talented people who create beautiful skin blends that you can download and install. I’ve started to use You Are Real as my default and let me tell you… the quality of my sims’ appearance has improved greatly. You just don’t know until you see it! There’s tons of skins to pick from, and many Simblrs create their own, or list their favorite skins in a CC or Downloads section. Pick some that you love!

Lighting Mods – There are some breathtaking Sims 3 landscape shots as well. I thought that maybe some of it was heavily filtered in Photoshop until I discovered much of it comes from installed lighting mods. Again, the difference it makes is astounding! I chose Perfect Day, created by Tumblr user brntwaffles. You can find a ton of options to download there, or search around for other lighting mods online.

Poses – Sim folks also create custom poses that freeze your sims and allows you to take photos of them in an environment or a photo backdrop. You install these poses just like any other custom content, and must install the Pose Player mod to use them. To make it much simpler, I also installed the Pose Player Interaction Add-On, which allows you to launch poses from the Sim itself, rather than the Pose Player object. Again, you can find poses created by the community — there are tons to install!

Camera Mod – Now you have the poses, let’s get that camera lined up the way you like! Shimrod’s Camera Mod with brntwaffle’s low level zoom is amazing for getting all the shots you need!

Custom Content

Custom content (CC) is another huge part of upping your game. I know some folks only like to play vanilla Sims 3 for fear of the glitches CC causes. This is true — anytime you introduce mods and CC into your game, you risk something being incompatible or glitching. But there’s some truly lovely clothes, skins, poses, worlds and lots that you can add to your game which will make it all the more fun.

Sims 3 cityscape taken with lighting mods.
Sims 3 cityscape taken with lighting mods.

Finding CC – You’ll find that as you start looking for CC, it’s everywhere! You can go to Mod the Sims, The Sims Resource, or a variety of websites that talented creators set up for their downloads. Lately, I’ve been on an indie kick. A lot of Simblrs don’t rely on the big sites to display their gifts and newest work. You can find some of the best things highlighted at the My Sims 3 Blog — it has an amazing daily stream of beautiful content. I really don’t know how they do it!

CC Magic – Then comes the problem of having too much CC. The more you add, the slower your game will launch — just makes sense. I’ve been experimenting with CC Magic, which not only helps you organize new and old CC downloads, but compresses them and helps your game load faster. I just started using this, and haven’t found any issues with it so far, so I wanted to offer it as a possible option for helping folks with huge libraries. This tutorial and this tutorial may be helpful.

Sunsetting

With The Sims 4 launching (hopefully) sometime this year, the content and mods for The Sims 3 have come to an amazing height. It’s going to take the community quite a while to figure out Sims 4 to the point where they can create custom content of this depth. I saw the same happen when Sims 3 was launched — Simmers complained about how little content there was in comparison to Sims 2. 😀

So even though new gaming experiences are on the horizon, this is a wonderful time to get back into playing Sims 3. The game is at its peak, and content from the community just keeps coming. I know that I’m having fun with my sims in ways I would have never imagined back when this game first released (and I remember getting it on release day!).