Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hangin' Out at the Mall, Sims Style

For a long while, I'd had the idea simmering in the back of my brain to build a BIG mall for my Sims.  I've built plenty of little shopping areas for them to buy clothes and such, but I'd never built anything that looked like what we think of in real life as a huge mall.  So I set about building a huge oval building.  I broke it up into many smaller shops, put public bathrooms in at either end, etc.  The outside is pretty boring but here are some pictures of the many different kinds of shops and activities inside the Mega-Mile Mall:

Here's the Mall Restaurant.  Whenever my Sims visit the Mall, they can have dinner as a family or socialize with folks they don't know.  When I send a Sim with high cooking skills to the Mall, I have him or her cook up a great meal for everyone.  Otherwise, individual Sims just make their own meals when they're hungry.

Every Mall has a clothing store or boutique, and the Mega-Mile Mall is no exception.  Here, the clothes-shopping member of the family can do their thing, while the spouse or kids watch tube.

While most Malls don't have grocery stores, I figured why not?  So in the opposite corner to the restaurant there is this mini mart where Sims can go to pick up groceries before they head home.

Here is the Mall's bookstore.  There are cozy areas to sit and read so you can decide which book you want to buy or you can roam the stacks to your delight. 

I call this the Family Fun Center.  It's a place where people can come to play games and have fun--as a family or as a way to meet new people.

For the kids, there's a gaming store with pinball machines to play there as well as games to buy to play at home on their computers.  It's the "in" social hangout for the older children & teens when they get dragged along to the mall by Mom or Dad.

For the fit-minded, there is a gym where you can work out.  There are showers & tubs available to clean up after your workout.

The adults-only disco, Club Z, is a great place to meet people, have a drink or get your boogie on.  The couple shown met at the mall but it was their time at the disco that really sealed the deal! :)

I call this the Rest Stop. It's just a tiny room with a few beds and dressers. I wasn't sure if the Sims could sleep or have sex in bed while off of their home turf. Turns out, they can't go to bed nor have sex in bed here. They'll have to get their groove on in the dressing rooms over at the boutique--if they dare.

Out in the middle of the mall, there is this pool.  You can see the doors into some of the shops from here.  I put in stairs going to the roof and put in some rooftop hot tubs but, for some reason, no one will go up there.  Not sure what's up with that.

With a mall this grand, when any of my Sims need to go shopping these days, or just want to mingle with others, I sent them to the Mega-Mile Mall.  After all, it has just about anything they would want!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Story of Alvin & Yvetta

Alvin was abandoned by his biological family when he was a small child and grew up in The Leone Children's Home, run by an elderly lady known as Mama Leone, with several other children--Alayna, Little Alvin, Brighton and Carlton. The Home was a huge, rambling 1-story home with 9 bedrooms and several nurseries. Alvin's time at The Home was happy but tough--Mama made sure all the children were well schooled, well read and physically fit.

Around the time Alvin became a teenager, a new family named The Youglies built a house across the street from The Home. Many people in the neighborhood and at school made fun of The Youglies because they were not attractive; but when Alvin met Yvetta, the Youglies' eldest daughter, all he saw was a beautiful girl. (Alvin is the boy in the blue blazer in the pic and Yvetta has on a 2-toned shirt.)

They began dating and were inseparable through most of high school. Yvetta was also courted by one of the hottest boys at school, a "bad boy" named Enrique Agua. She went out with him, even though she felt bad about going behind Alvin's back, because she was so amazed that such a cute boy had asked her out. It didn't last long, though--and she went back to Alvin. At right is Yvetta and her family, the Youglies.

When Mama passed, the children at The Home discovered that she'd been wealthy--no one had ever known--so each child got a hefty sum from her will to help them build a good life once they left the Home. Alvin used this money to have a beautiful house built next to the Youglies for he & Yvetta to start a new life and raise a family. The day Yvetta became an adult, she moved into the house and set about getting it ready for Alvin, who was just a little younger than she and wasn't permitted to move in yet.

When Alvin became an adult, he immediately moved into the new house with Yvetta. They held the wedding soon after, attended by The Youglies and The Leones. It was a beautiful outdoor evening ceremony held next to the pond in front of their new home. The scene was alive with pink flowers (Yvetta's favorite) and it was a truly magical event for all in attendance. The only strain on married life is their work schedules--Alvin works days and Yvetta works evenings, so it's hard to find time together.

Not long after the wedding, Yvetta found out she was pregnant. She & Alvin are so happy that they'll be welcoming their first child soon. Leona, a staff member from The Home who took care of Alvin as a child, has offered to move in and help with the cooking and child care. Since neither Alvin nor Yvetta ever learned to cook very well, this was a welcome offer and was accepted.
Over at The Home, the other staff member, Leonard, married Frankie and moved her into The Home, while they continue to watch over the remaining children. They just had their first baby as well, so it appears that Alvin & Yvetta's baby will have a built-in playmate of the same age living right across the street. :)
Alvin & Yvetta remain friends with everyone at The Home, inviting them over regularly for dinner and parties.

BABY UPDATE: Alvin & Yvetta had twins today (12/27/09)--a boy and a girl--Kasey & Kelsey.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The 3-Octagon House

In the past 5 years or so, I've probably built more than a hundred Sim houses. I go through phases where I build ginormous mansions or see how small a house I can build and still be functional. While I'm relatively good at keeping my designs of the overall houses relatively original from house to house, when it comes to decorating the insides of the houses, I tend to fall back on familiar colors or patterns.

I've built a couple of cool new houses recently. The one I built yesterday is my favorite of late. It was for 3 adult siblings and the original concept in my head was to make a house out of 3 octagons all connecting into a central core, where each octagon would be 1 sibling's private living quarters, and the central core would be common areas like the kitchen and livingroom. It didn't come out exactly as planned.

Once I got the front two octagons built, I realized that, architecturally, it would probably be more interesting to have the front two smaller octagons be 1 story and have the back octagon be larger and 2 stories. I decided to try some different roofing and floor and wall patterns than I usually use, including a lot of linoleum which I don't usually use at all, and am really happy with the results. The front 2 octagons are the bedroom suites of the 2 female siblings. The male sibling's bedroom suite is contained within the larger, 2-story common area, which also houses a combined kitchen/dining area, a living room and a study/skills room. A huge deck wraps around much of the larger octagon and I put in a nice garden right outside the dining room window.

Livingroom at back of house w/entrance to deck.

Kitchen (right), dining area (left) and garden (far left)
and kitchen entrance onto the deck.

The study (aka skills room).

Front left octagon: eldest sister's room.

Front right octagon: youngest sister's room

Front corner of main house octagon: brother's room

The outside view. I'm super happy with this house. I'm usually hung up on always having to have a deck but, with this house, I decided to break all my usual rules, so it has a little patio area on ground level but no porch. I used auto roofing, as I most often do, but I used a different style of roofing than I usually use and then used panelling to fill in the wall space below the roofs. Considering that this house is really broken up a LOT (though you can't tell it from this angle), I was really happy that the roof came out looking so good--sometimes, in houses with a lot of angles like this, it comes out really goofy looking and not at all realistic.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What keeps The Sims 2 fresh after all these years.

I got The Sims 2 as a Christmas gift when it first came out, which I believe was 2004. I'd already been playing the original (The Sims) on my laptop, but the difference between The Sims and The Sims 2 was HUGE, so I was very happy to upgrade when I got the gift.

I've talked to many adults who had a Sim addiction, and they nearly all say the same thing--they played like mad men and women for a week or two, maybe even a month, but then they were done with the game. My addiction is still going 5 years later, so sometimes I wonder--is that a reflection on my being more juvenile than most folks, or just that I have put more time and energy into keeping the game fresh so that I am continually excited to play it?

Perhaps the answer is a little of both! However, I do think that I have spent a good bit of time and energy continuing to change and try new strategies to keep the game fun and interesting. For example, I went from building just plain old boxes as houses for my Sims to building elaborate multi-level and multi-shaped mansions.

A few years ago, I decided it might be fun to try to hook up people of vastly disparate physical characteristics ('looks') and have them procreate, to see how good the game was at passing on those genetic codes. I created Sims with huge noses and no chin, etc., and then married them to a Sim with a huge chin and tiny nose, to see if it would balance out in the kids. Boy, did I make some ugly babies that way! LOL But it was fun and interesting--to me at least.

I just realized in the past few months that I have nearly always maintained the family unit once a couple was married and had children. That's not to say that people didn't cheat on their spouses with other Sims, but they always stayed married despite the affairs. So my most recent change in gameplay is to break up families, remarrying some "divorced" Sims, have parents living in 2 different houses sharing "custody" of the children (though Sims kids can only LIVE in 1 house at a time), etc.

This has brought me to a very strange (and, what would be terribly awkward in real life) situation. I had a white man named Chad La Mer married to a black woman named Brooke Towers. They had a young son (Brad) and Brooke was pregnant with their second child (Cookie). During her pregnancy, she began an affair with 1 of 5 adopted Beechwood brothers, 3 of whom were named Alec (UGH, that dratted Social Services!). Alec and Brooke's chemistry was much better than Chad and Brooke's, so I decided to break up the marriage so that she could marry Alec. Brooke had the baby, Cookie, and immediately left Chad, taking the baby but leaving her son Brad with Chad. She moved in with and married Alec and had a baby with him.

Chad later rekindled a flirtation he'd had earlier with Alec's gay brother, also named Alec, which lead to THEM getting married and adopting children together. So now we have a family in which 1 brother is married to the ex-wife of the other brother's husband, and both Beechwood brothers are step-fathers to Chad and Brooke's 2 children. Wow, it has been dizzying trying to keep it all straight. To add to the confusion, the youngest Beechwood brother, Alexander, has been dating Cookie La Mer! Yoikes! Talk about your awkward family reunions!

It sure makes for some interesting family trees and keeps me on my toes remembering who is related to who and how, and who is who's child and who is dating who. In the game, the fact that the "husbands" of both couples are brothers doesn't seem to make the children family also! Otherwise, the game wouldn't allow Cookie La Mer and Alexander Beechwood to have romantic feelings toward one another!

So that's how I keep The Sims 2 fresh after five years of daily playing. I just keep dreaming up new experiments to carry out among my hundreds of Sims. Oh, and yes, I do know that The Sims 3 is out now; but, from what I've read, it has such major changes that I'm not sure I'd enjoy playing it as much as I do Sims 2. Maybe you could let me know how you're liking it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Sims House Grand Tour

In my last two blog posts, I took you on a tour--via pictures--of a Sims house I'd just built. This time, I thought I'd take you on a tour of another of my new Sims houses through a series of short videos. I apologize in advance for the jerky camera action, but it is difficult to be super precise when you are dealing with narrow hallways and such. So, follow me...

As we approach the house, you can see that it is a 2-story house with dormer window in the front and a porch with black wrought iron fencing. The outside surface is a gray slate, which I find quite dramatic, especially when combined with white windows and doors. Let's go in.

Next, go through the foyer and into the livingroom on the right. I love bold colors--like this livingroom with bold red carpeting--but I tend to do the foyer in a more neutral palette like this pale wood floor, panelling and paint.

Leaving the livingroom, we go out into the back hall and across to the study. The study--or what I call the skills room--is always one of my favorite rooms to build and decorate. I like to make it a room that I could envision myself relaxing and reading in. I usually have bookcases, a piano and a chess board in there--a place where my Sims can work on most of their skills.

After a 360-degree tour of the library, where Mom Jackie is taking a quiet break from the baby with a good book, we head back out into the back hall.

This is a first floor guest bedroom that is being used temporarily as a nursery. When I started building the house, I had every intention to include a first floor nursery (as I nearly always do), but I got so into designing the house--which I think is different than anything I've built before--that I forgot to include a nursery. So when a baby arrived, I had to improvise! Leaving the nursery, we go out onto a lovely private terrace, complete with hot tub.

Leaving the terrace, we go back inside, and down the hall to the kitchen (where Dad Zedrick has just fed the baby--I think he's already fallen asleep! The baby--not Dad! hehe).

Here, we pass through the kitchen (excuse us, Zedrick) and into the dining room. One of my favorite dining room designs is a large bay window with the long white arched windows in it. I guess it is sort of my own fantasy of being able to sit in a room with a lot of light and look out a bay window at the garden while I eat.

If you'll head up the stairs to the second floor, we can take a peek at the not-yet-furnished master suite--a beautiful turquoise room that mimics the bay window design of the dining room which is just below it. As the camera faces the double doors, you will see an archway to the left and right. Those are the bathrooms of the master suite.

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed the tour! If there's something else in regard to my Sims or Sims houses that you'd like to see or hear about, please use the comment function to let me know! Thanks for stopping by My Sim-Called Life.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Building a Sim house - Part II

In Part I, I talked about designing the front entrance of the house, laying out the basic structure of the first floor foundation, laying in bathrooms at the front of the house, and creating the first floor master bedroom suite with easy access to the kitchen. In Part II, I continue with the rest of the house and show the finished project.

As shown in Part I, I created a long rectangular foundation with a bay window push out on each side. One bay window area becomes the combined kitchen and dining room as shown here. After this picture was taken, I did add an island between the appliances and the table, to put the served food (and the dishwasher) closer to the diners. I used a very neutral color palette in walls and floor and then used white counters with a deep teal top and lighting to match (pretty close, anyway) as the pops of color.

In the above shot, you can see the entire first floor--small porch, 2 guest bathrooms, combined kitchen & dining room, combined livingroom and skills room, master suite with 2 bathrooms and a back deck with hot tub.

Since there are only 3 people living in the house, and no immediate plans to expand the family, I added only a partial second floor vs. covering the entire space of the first floor with the second. This provides the little mini-roofs on the first floor that you will see in the completed pictures, below. This is the upstairs bedroom and bathrooms (only 1 bathroom is furnished in this pic). The upstairs living space hadn't been furnished yet when this picture was taken.

Here, I've added the roof and the house itself is complete except for the landscaping. As you see, the mini-roofs at the front and sides (and back, which you can't see from this angle) are a result of adding only a partial second floor. The roofing then compensates for the unused space.

Voila! All done. I put in a garden of rosebushes and ground flowers in on both sides of the entrance and added trees on each of the front corners. It isn't as grand as many of the Sim hosues I've built, but I'm pretty happy with it.

I have found, over years of building Sim houses, that it makes sense to build houses to meet the Sims needs and not just to build a house that looks good. For example, if you don't have enough bathrooms, you aren't going to be able to get your Sims to work or school on time. If you have the kitchen too far from the entrance, your Sims may miss their bus or carpool (where they have been eating their breakfast).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Building a Sim house - Part I

I've uploaded quite a few pictures of completed Sims houses that I've built to my Flickr page, and a few pictures of rooms inside that I've decorated, but I've never included pictures of building a Sim house from the ground up. I noticed on my Flickr search results that there are people searching for pictures of how to build a Sims house nearly every day, so that inspired this post.

The first thing I do in building a Sims house is to design the entrance. This is usually an elevated porch with steps. Most of my porches are much larger than this and have multiple sets of steps.

Next, I decide what shape the house will be--sometimes determined by the size of the lot. In this case, the lot is very deep but not very wide, so I began with a long rectangle going back from the front porch, and then added bay windows on each side. In my opinion, this adds floor space without ending up with an over-large or boxy-looking house.

In my experience, Sims usually need to use the bathroom upon returning from work or school, so I have found it most effective to have at least one bathroom right at the front of the house. However, I usually have more of a foyer than this--since this is a narrow and long lot, I didn't have enough space in width to have the bathrooms PLUS the foyer. Instead, the front hallway opens up into the livingroom and an entrance into the kitchen/dining room.

Behind the kitchen/diningroom is the master suite--a nice-sized bedroom and two bathrooms (the first-floor residents are a couple). The door to the right of the loveseat opens directly into the kitchen. The door to the left opens into the livingroom.

Part II will include pictures of the kitchen/dining room, the second floor bedroom/bath, and the completed house with roof from the front and side, before and after landscaping.