Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Looking Forward to the Sims 4 Seasons Expansion

The newest expansion for Sims 4 — Seasons, is gearing up to drop at midnight EST on this Friday. I’m trying to temper my feelings for the pack, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t pretty excited by what I’ve seen.

In fact, I decided to officially take a vacation day so I could immerse myself in all the expansion has to offer. I’ve learned in the past that Sims expansions require at least a full day of my time for me to feel like I’ve got a grasp on what all they have to offer. Since this releases on a Friday, that lines me up for a long weekend (of Sims).

Traditionally, Seasons has been one of the most popular and requested of the Sims expansions, right up there with Pets. With this version of Seasons, we’re not just getting weather, but a focus on an in-game calendar and holidays.

In the past, Seasons had holidays, but they were usually something quickly done with. This time around, you can make a calendar, create your own holidays and traditions and deck out the house with decorations (other houses in the neighborhood will also auto decorate I heard).

I think this is something you have to set up in advance, but the house seems to automatically remember what your decoration preferences for holidays are. Or, that’s the impression I get.

Not to mention how the world transitions from one season to the next — winter doesn’t just pop into spring, it slowly changes. Also, there’s a huge overhaul in the gardening system that has to take into consideration seasons. That should be fun to learn.

Not to mention, certain places actually have climates — the jungle and desert shouldn’t get snow, for example. And they have their own specialized seasons, too.

Of course, despite all the good things, some folks had to find things to grumble about, like the lack of snow depth . Sims 4 has always been under fire for one thing or another by disgruntled community members. I can’t completely blame them, though, when we’re seeing more stuff packs pop up now than ever.

As for this expansion, I feel the team put a ton of work and love into it. I just hope that the expansion plays well and lives up to the hopes of the players.

I’m probably a lot easier to please than most, but I’m just here to have some fun.

Now, which family should I play?

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Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4: Jungle Adventure – Into the Temple

I promised in my last post about Sims 4 that I’d spend a little more time with the new Jungle Adventure game pack, especially exploring a temple. I also said that I’d go back and find the name of the random Sim I chose to inflict this upon adventure with.

Turns out, his name is Javier.

He’d visited the jungle once already, but ran out of vacation time (still a rookie at work, hasn’t built up much time off), so I had to send him home before he got a proper look at the temple. I learned when I brought him back a second time that all the areas you explored before are once again overgrown… so you have to cut your way back through all the vines to re-activate the gates.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for those darn random chance events you get opening each gate. These things are trouble… and dangerous. They really do expect you to have a Sim with fairly high skills in order to participate without penalty.

Twice, poor Javier was poisoned by scorpion bites due to these things.

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Poisoned Sims get this green pattern on their skin.

I wasn’t sure what to do about that — I read that if you had high enough cultural knowledge to unlock the secret vendor in town, you could trade for an antidote. I didn’t have any cultural knowledge yet at all, so Javier was stuck having to fend for himself.

If he was going to be a gonner anyhow, I figured he may as well die exploring the temple. Stepping in harm’s way was something he was very good at doing…

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Javier triggered a booby trap that lit him on fire. Thankfully, I had bottles of extinguisher in his inventory!

The major issue I had was that Javier entered the jungle with a low Social meter. I tried to have him talk to the locals to raise it, but my time in the jungle was too limited for me to have him sit around town all day chatting.

That’s when I discovered… he wasn’t alone in the temple…

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-“Jaws” theme plays on a xylophone-

This bony guy is called a Temple Guardian. I was worried that it might attack Javier, but apparently Javier’s social need was so great, he didn’t care about who he befriended at the moment.

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Not something you see everyday…

The skeleton was actually a pretty nice guy. When their conversation got interrupted as Javier was attacked randomly by fire flies… who literally set Javier on fire… the Guardian looked pretty concerned about the situation.

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These random pest attacks happen out of nowhere, for no reason. Kinda annoying.

I mean, check out that expression. I was actually kinda impressed they were able to convey so much worry with just a skull.

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Okay… moving on from the disturbing skull imagery.

So, progressing through the temple requires your Sim to respond to several traps and checkpoints. Basically, you click on something in the temple, and it gives you a multiple choice selection on how to try and disarm the trapped doors. Compared to the Sims 3 Adventure expansion, which required you to search for switches and traps and that sort of thing, these mechanics were fairly watered down.

The only up side is that the multiple choice element means that returning to the temple will require a different answer each time. So… there’s a little bit of RNG in there. But not like a whole randomly created temple layout or anything (as far as I know).

Selecting the wrong thing can have several different effects including bodily harm (set on fire), or emotional/need manipulation. I didn’t know at the time that you could examine things to get hints as to what the right answer was. Because I just progressed with trial and error, poor Javier was so bottomed out in his needs and emotions it wasn’t funny.

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An emotionally suffering Javier unlocks the final chamber of the temple.

The only reason he finished the temple at all, despite his crippling emotional state, was due to the berries I’d picked from the Tree of Emotion outside the temple. Eating a happy berry (whatever it was called) was enough to override Javier’s misery just long enough to make it to the final treasure and back to town.

Oh, and as you can see from the picture above, somewhere in there, Javier was able to fight off the poison. So he didn’t die a horrible, writhing death after all.

The final chamber was surprisingly trap-free and included three different chests to loot from. One of them gave me a couple of special artifacts that apparently can be fused with pieces off other artifacts. Seems like there’s a “top” piece and a “bottom” piece. Don’t know what these do yet because I only got the top pieces.

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I also got a nice artifact that was worth 8K Simoleons. Seeing that Javier is still scrounging to make a living in his apartment, this was a pretty nice find.

Javier was still in pretty bad shape, so I took him back to his rental. You can warp out of the temple automatically using the map feature, just like any other place in town… I’m not sure how I feel about that. But for the moment, I was glad of it.

I got the poor guy fed and rested… then I spent the remaining time letting him socialize around the market to help his bottomed-out social meter. This actually leveled him a point in the local culture. And he met a cute local girl.

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Not too shabby, Javier!

Maybe I’ll send him back again to pursue that friendship. There are still lots of other paths I haven’t uncovered in the jungle yet, and other temples to explore!

Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4: Jungle Adventure First Impression

I haven’t been keeping up with Sims 4 releases like I should, so the Jungle Adventure Game Pack snuck past me. When I saw the announcement on a Sim blog I follow yesterday, I jumped over to the forums and Reddit to see what the thoughts were about this game pack.

I really enjoyed the Sims 3 World Adventures expansion pack, and even wrote a series of posts about it a while back. So, it was nice to see a new game pack that was themed towards this sort of thing.

I only got to mess around with it for a few hours, but here’s my experiences so far.

Wobbly Start

Jungle Adventure adds a new vacation location to explore in your Sim world. This builds on to the system they introduced with the Outdoors Retreat game pack a few years back, but doesn’t require that pack to play the new one.

I started by picking a random single Sim from my neighborhood. I’ve become really fond of this particular neighborhood, which houses several of my favorite Sim families. I have the Amanda/Akira family, a family of vampires that I played quite a bit (but never blogged about for some reason), and the family I played around with for the Cats and Dogs release.

I don’t even recall this Sim’s name (poor guy, I’ll have to look it up later), but I selected him, gave him better hair and clothing, and put him on the path to adventure. He started out living in a low-grade apartment in San Myshuno… but I had to move him to a different apartment because the Gremlin trait breaking all his appliances every other day was too much for me.

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And I saw this guy wandering around the local festival… not sure what his story is.

Anyhow. About Jungle Adventures.

So you set up a vacation using your phone. You arrive in Selvadorada, a place inspired by South American jungles, sporting a Latino vibe. You can unlock and level the culture there through interactions, and explore the jungles… if you can figure out how.

When your Sim first arrives, you’re dropped into a map that’s filled with question mark places to explore. The game tells you that you need to pick up some supplies before you head out to the jungle. That makes sense, but it wasn’t very intuitive to figure out.

Jungle Supplies

There’s a little outdoor market next to the bar with three tables and a food vendor. Here’s where the wonkiness comes in.

There are objects you can click on the table to buy — things like a machete (always carry more than one), bug spray and other such objects. But these are only active if there’s someone standing behind the table selling stuff.

Then, there’s a whole different second shop. You can click a shopkeeper Sim and choose to buy adventuring supplies. This opens up things like tents, fire pits, beds, pet supplies (if you brought your pet) and the new archaeology table.

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You can carry the archaeology table around in your inventory and set it up anywhere!

My poor sim was kinda up the creek because he used up his only spider repellent spray the very first morning, and no one ever came to stand behind the table selling sprays while I was in the market. So, I couldn’t replenish it.

Yes, there are spider attacks. And bat attacks… and probably other attacks I don’t even know about yet.

Jungle Jam

So, once I finally got my supplies, I had to figure out how to actually enter the jungle. This is also not intuitive. I ended up having to go to the forum for hints.

So, what you have to do is take your Sim to the National Park lot. There, you will find overgrown archways that you can click on. This allows you to clear the brush with a machete or by hand.

When you finish this, you get a random chance event. Having higher skills seem to help succeed and get a positive outcome on the event. So far, nothing that’s happened during one of these has been too terrible.

Going deeper into the jungle just requires you to continue clearing these passages. They warp you from one area to another in a rabbit-hole type progression.

Archaeology Time

Along the path, I began to find these little dig spots. Here, you can discover artifacts, which have various quality and rarity associated to them.

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Digging up artifacts and authenticating them on the archaeology table increases the archaeology skill, which I was most interested in exploring. You can choose to display the artifacts or sell them once you determine what they really are.

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At the end of your vacation, you can choose to extend the vacation or head back home. My poor little Sim was on the lowest rung of his career ladder, so he didn’t have a lot of vacation time to use.

I gave him a few days out in the jungle, and even discovered the first temple. I haven’t been able to start exploring it yet, so there’s still a whole lot more for me to find.

So far, I give this game pack a pretty positive-average rating. I like that they’ve expanded on the vacation system and are opening up an exploratory area. I’m interested to see what secrets I can find in the temple, and I want to work up the new skill and culture.

However, getting supplies and finding a way into the jungle should have been a little more intuitive from the start. Now that I know how to do these things, it’s fine.

There’s nothing that’s jumped out at me as wow-amazing! so far. Again, though, I haven’t been inside the temple yet. I’m going to assume the meat and potatoes of the game will be there.

I also wonder if clearing treasures and things out with one Sim will leave it like that for others. I believe I read that once you open the path to the temple, all Sims in the neighborhood can go through. But does that mean if you loot stuff, they don’t respawn?

That would be a bummer for replayability. Something I’ll have to check on.

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My first artifact!
Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4: A First Look at Cats & Dogs

Though I haven’t written a lot about Sims 4 lately, I’ve spent a good bit of time getting ready for the newest expansion pack that released last week, Cats & Dogs (C&D). In fact, I even gave the landing page of my Custom Content Blog a facelift.

I’ve also been sorting through all my downloads, discarding things that are outdated or that I’m not interested in keeping, putting what I keep into better categories on my blog, and updating links where I can. I spent an evening last week just confirming the state of the mods I use, updating them and the links in my blog, and discarding the ones that don’t work anymore.

I’m making a lot of headway on reorganizing that blog, but I’m not quite done yet. There’s still a lot of content left for me to prune and update. And all of this was to get a cleaner base game in anticipation of C&D.

The Features

So, C&D is pretty self explanatory. It’s a full game expansion that adds… cats and dogs. Note that it’s not named “Pets” like previous iterations in the Sims series. This is because, true to name, we only got cats and dogs. I still mourn the loss of small pets, birds and especially horses.

You also have the ability to become a vet and run your own clinic. I haven’t done this yet, so I’ll have to follow up with a post about that feature when I get there.

While the pets you can bring into your Sims’ households are super cute and expressive, some folks feel as if the expansion is priced too steep, or would have been better suited for a game pack. I’m really not sure where I stand on this —  I haven’t been disappointed in it (aside from lack of pet type variety), but I can certainly see how some people feel this way.

 

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The story of my life: two cats fighting and in a place they shouldn’t be while I’m trying to relax and enjoy my time after work.

I know from keeping up with information and interviews that a lot of things are going on under the hood that may have bumped the development up into making it a full pack. Things that are small to us, but take up technical time — such as making surfaces, like tables and counters, things cats can jump up on (all the time!). Or maybe the completely free-form Create-A-Sim for pets, much like the system we used to have for everything in Sims 3 (they’re opening a can of worms with that). Add to that the 170+ breeds already programed into the CAS – that’s pretty impressive!

For those who just want to play around with pets and genetics, there’s a lot of fun to be had right there. And it answers your burning questions such as… What if The Fox & The Hound had puppies?

Yeah, you know you want to know!

The Bugs

On the down side, this expansion pack is super sensitive, and there are a LOT of bugs.

Due to adding a whole new type of Sim to the game, the patch everyone got before it’s release (Nov 7)  broke a bunch of mods. So, be sure to research which mods might be pitching a fit for your game even if you haven’t picked up this expansion. I wasn’t joking when I said I sorted through and did a major clean-out of my own mods.

But even aside of mods, a number of players have reported all sorts of bugs. I’ve personally had issues trying to adopt strays I’ve befriended on the street — they simply never adopt. I had to resort to inviting them over to my house (which you do by calling them on your cell like a regular Sim — WHAT?) and CHEAT: Shift-Right-Click “Add to Household.” But I shouldn’t have to do that.

I’ve also seen wonkiness in trying to take a sick pet to the vet.

The Pets

On the up side, the pets themselves are a mixture of wonderful and frustrating. The big controversy with pets is that Maxis decided to make them “mysterious” by removing your ability to control them. This is fine, except it also hides important information about your pet — how old they are, when they’re going to age up, what their skills are, what their relationships are.

I don’t mind not being in control of my pet (it feels like I’m never in control of my pets IRL), but at least let me see their age!

Not to worry, though. There’s already a mod that makes pets playable. I’ve installed it but haven’t sat down to play a session with the mod enabled. I’ll see how I like it.

So far, I’ve only taken one of my old custom-made Sims, Amie, changed her traits to make her an uber animal lover, and dropped her in a house next to the beach in the new neighborhood, Brindleton Bay. I’ve put her in the same save as my beloved family of City Living (I also have a family of vampires in this world that I’ve never blogged about, so I’ve become pretty attached to that save).

I then sent Amie out to befriend all manner of stray cats and dogs just to see the variety of pets and personalities. So far, I’ve only brought home cats, but it looks like dogs might be a bit more interesting since you can actually train them. With cats, you just keep scolding them not to do things like jump on counters and knock over trash cans — true to life.

Meet Mayor Whiskers, my first stray adopt. Who can resist this charm?

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Yes, he comes with the top hat and collar.

I was a little disappointed to see that he wasn’t just a randomized stray, but one other people encounter in their game, too. So, essentially, he’s a Townie Cat.

Well, they sucked me in with this stray. He was too friendly and charming. I had to take him home. Then, after I got used to life with one cat, I went about adopting another stray, a female this time, to see what having kittens was like.

Actually getting the cats to mate wasn’t too hard — though you have to wait for the female to go into heat. But of the 4 or so times I tried, only one was actually successful. I guess they don’t want the city flooded with kittens and puppies… but I’ve heard some players who have no luck at all getting offspring.

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Mother cat and kitten

My cats had two male kittens. They both looked very similar to their father, just with a few different traits. I kept one of the kittens with the better personality and adopted off the second (this was so sad!).

I wish I’d seen a little more variety in their kittens. I know from playing around in the CAS that they actually do have a genetic chance at chocolate point kittens, more like their mother. I’ll keep trying and see what happens.

Actually cleaning up and taking care of pets can be really time consuming. Not only do they shed (you can buy a Roomba to help with that!), but they require feeding and brushing and litter box cleaning/bathroom breaks very often. I learned quickly that the automatic feeder and the laser powered litter box (I need one IRL) are my new best friends — having two cats and two kittens was waaaay too much work without a little automaton.

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Once I had that in place, though, cats were pretty self-sufficient. I suppose they’re an option for Sims who are on the go and still want a pet, while dogs may be more for Sims that can dedicate the time for training.

So, this is my first impression of Sims 4 Cats & Dogs. I’ll probably have more to write about as I dive deeper into this pack.

If you’re on the fence about picking it up, you might want to wait until some of the bugs are ironed out or a holiday sale comes around. Pet lovers will find a lot to enjoy in this, so only you know if this is something you need in your Sims life. 🙂

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Sims 4

Games I’m Looking Forward To

I’ve mostly been playing FFXIV lately, alternating with a few other MMOs on the side, and a healthy dose of Stardew Valley when I can. Though I have nothing really earthshaking to write about for these games, on the eve of the release of the newest Mario game, I decided to talk about a few of the games I’m really looking forward to.

It’s all kinda hard to beat the hype of Stardew Valley, but I’m excited about the following games, each in their own special way.

Mario Odyssey

I was a huge Nintendo kid growing up, and the Mario series was one of my favorites. I watched all the funky cartoons, collected everything I could on my meager allowance, and played through the games sooooo times. Well, up until Super Mario 64.

I think I beat Mario 64. But I don’t remember beating a Mario game since. While I’m still fond of Mario, in the way someone is fond of a favorite childhood character, RPGs, MMOs and computer games took my attention away from Nintendo for a solid chunk of time.

marioncappy

However, Mario Odyssey might just be the game to rekindle that fun. I’ve heard people say that the game took them back to Mario 64 immediately. It looks like a game that fosters exploration — if Breath of the Wild is any indication of how Odyssey might evolve the Mario series, then I’m completely on board.

I preordered the game months ago, and it’s already in the mail on its way from Amazon. Hopefully I’ll get it tomorrow, in time to explore it some this weekend.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

pocketcamp

Even though the announcement for this came out just yesterday, and it’s a mobile game, I’m still pretty excited for this. One of the major reasons I’m hyped is because hopefully, this game will allow me to connect with friends, family and blogger friends in an Animal Crossing environment.

While Animal Crossing has always allowed you to invite friends in, I’ve never been big on throwing my Nintendo friend code out to the wild. So while it would have been fun inviting folks to my little town, aside from Syn and my sister (who totally just wanted to steal new types of fruit for her town), I didn’t multi-play a whole lot.

Doing it on an app basis seems safer, kinda like Miitomo. So, we’ll see what kind of mischief this game brings. This comes out late November.

Sims 4: Cats and Dogs

catsanddogs

The next Sims expansion is all about cats and dogs… so you know I had to have this one pre-ordered pretty much since I first started seeing information about it. Not only do we get pets in Sims 4, but we also get to open our own Vet clinic! And for a girl who once wanted to be a veterinarian when she was much younger, I know this is going to be good Sims fun.

My one disappointment with this expansion is they cut horses completely. Sims 3 Pets did horses so well! In fact, I rarely played with any of the other pets because the horses were the main highlight for me. I have a sinking feeling we’ll probably never see horses in this game… unless they shockingly decide to make a whole horse-themed game pack. I find that hard to imagine, though.

Despite all of that, I’m still excited for what Cats & Dogs will bring to Sims 4. It’s releasing November 10, so I don’t have too much longer to wait!

Do you have some games you’re waiting for right now? What’s got you hyped?