Sims 4: My View

It’s never easy when one generation of a game you’ve played for several years comes to an end. I think most long-term simmers can relate to the odd conflict of emotions the advent of a new generation of our favourite game represents. We’re excited to see what the new one will be like but sad to leave the fully tricked out last generation behind. However I always find eventually that I gravitate to the new one completely and this has been no different with Sims 4.

Some of my urge to move on was motivated by the almost (totally if without Twallan’s mods) game breaking lag issues with Sims 3 but also it felt like the right time.

Sims 4 has been available to buy since September 2014 so I’ve had a good few months of game play now to really get a feel for it. Maxis / EA has  just released the first Game Pack for it which I haven’t purchased yet but probably will when they drop the price (I’m just not that into camping). Now feels like a good time to share my view of the game.

Below is a brief run through of the features that have really sold me on the 4th generation of the game.

Multitasking

The big sell with the 4th generation of the game is multitasking. Do not underestimate the difference this can make to the realism of the game. Until you actually experience it then it can be hard to explain but I’ll try.

In previous generations of the game it was rare for sims to do more than one or two tasks at the same time. Now they can do three or four things at the same time.

Combinations include

  • Working out whilst watching TV / listening to music and chatting
  • Eating whilst listening to music / watching TV
  • Watching TV whilst talking to other sims and fiddling with a smartphone
  • Cooking whilst chatting to the family and listening to music.
  • Sitting by the side of the pool or in the pool swimming and talking to others

There are so many combinations and this means each room / area that Sims are in seems much more alive as even non-playable characters (NPCs) automatically multitask around your Sim.

Tip: Put a music system in as many of the communal rooms in the house as possible as this will enable sims to listen to music and gain fun no matter what other task they are carrying out.

Interactions

Something I found surprising in a good way was the variety of romantic interactions that the base game shipped with. As you make the sims flirt even more romantic interactions open up for use. This is the same for all of the different emotions. The more you perform certain activities / interactions the more options for that emotional state you receive.

Different emotional states and plumbob colours include:

  • Fine – neutral state – Clear
  • Happy – Sims with full needs – Green
  • Energized – Sims who want to / enjoy exercise – Luminous Green / Yellow
  • Tense – Sims with a low need or embarrassed – Orange
  • Angry – Sims in a foul mood – Red
  • Flirty – Sims getting fruity with their significant other – Pink
  • Playful – Sims being silly and having fun with it – Violet
  • Inspired – Sims creating something like art or food to a good standard – Light Blue
  • Confident – Sims proud of themselves for an achievement – Bright Blue
  • Sad – Sims upset or gloomy – Dark Blue

All of the emotions have consequences for the options available to the Sim in question and they can experience more than one at a time however there is always an overriding emotion that is boosted by any others.

Tip: As your sim progresses in their chosen career they are rewarded with objects that have an emotional aura which you can activate to instantly change their mood. Make good use of these valuable objects. Emotional paintings created on the easel can also have this effect.

Warning: Watch out if any of your Sims become so Playful that they become Hysterical as they can actually die laughing. I found this out the hard way (hence the picture above)! Although it has led to me having a playable ghost so all’s well that ends well. lol

Building

Building has always been a big part of the game for me and although I’ve found myself playing more than building this time around I have still enjoyed the process.

At first I struggled with it as some of the tools, the foundation tool being the prime example, were very different from Sims 2 and Sims 3. But once you create the basic shape of a house it becomes very easy to decorate it and shape it how you like.

Standout building options for me include:

  • Malleable roofs – You can push and pull with the mouse to get unique roof shapes and use different tile patterns for each section if you please
  • Three different heights of wall are available and although you sadly cannot use a combination of them this does mean every house can look very different.
  • The foundation can be any height that you want it to be. Fancy tall stairs? you got it!
  • Placement of windows curtains and pictures can be at almost any height you please
  • Rooms can be easily re-sized by dragging the walls
  • You can place more than one thing on the same part of the wall without cheats
  • The two worlds that the base game ships with (Willow Creek and Oasis Springs) lend themselves to different types of building which is inspiring.

Tip: Draw out the shape of your house using the wall tool, even for porch areas. You can then add a foundation and delete and add walls as necessary. 

Note: I know many simmers are keenly feeling the loss of the Create-A-Style Tool however personally I don’t miss it that much. This is because it created massive issues with lagging and crashing in sims 3 for me. Yes it means being a little more creative with furnishings but I’m okay with that and it will get easier with each new add-on.

Shameless Self Promotion:
If you like any of the houses in the pictures above you can find my creations in the Sims 4 in-game Gallery under my user ID of KrazyAngelKat81 or you can login to the Sims website and find my creations under This Link.

The Sims Themselves

One of my major enduring bugbears with Sims 3 was the style of the Sims themselves. Unless you used a ridiculous amount of custom content it was difficult to get them looking anything other than a bit like people molded from dough. It made me long for my Sims 2 Simmies who had looked much more realistic.

With Sims 4 I feel that they have addressed this issue with aplomb.

Yes- you are correct that IS Don Lothario

In Create-A-Sim (CAS) you can now use your mouse to push and pull almost any part of their face and body to achieve the shape you want. This makes for much more realistic looking Simmies. The choices of hair look more real and less plastic too.

Okay there are not a huge amount of clothing options yet but this is getting better everyday and if you like custom content plenty of creators have already been churning out some marvelous work.

Maxis / EA have also made is easier to create parents / children / siblings based on the single sim that you have created. I like this option as in previous games you had to have at least two sims created in order to do this. Pictured above are the Opposite Twins (Georgina and Genevieve – one good, one evil) that I created and started my legacy play with.

Following tradition there are some familiar families to be found and they all look pretty good. Among them are Don Lothario, the Calientes, the Landgrabbs, the Goths and quite a few more. Long time fans will have fun spotting them out and about.

Tip: If you are still in two minds about whether or not to buy Sims 4 try out the Create-A-Sim Demo which you can download for free via Origin

Scenery

Some people think that Sims 4 looks a little cartoony in style and perhaps that’s true of the clouds but for the rest of the world it really is quite beautiful to look at. Especially when the rays of the sun filter through various landmarks.

You can find pretty places within the mini-neighbourhoods that provide the perfect setting for a private wedding.

I for one appreciate that the two worlds have been broken into mini neighbourhoods that your Sims can explore. It makes for a much faster running game than Sims 3 even if you do have to put up with short loading screens as you move between lots.

Tip: Take the time to use pause and the tab key to take spectacular screenshots when your Sims are out and about. 

Shameless Self Promotion:
I created a Tumbr / Simblr page where I will be sharing all the prettiest shots from my game play. I called it Love and Scenery Sims 4.
I also share generic game play shots in a public album on my Facebook account.

The Downsides

As much as I’m enjoying Sims 4 of course there are some features from previous editions that I miss.

Below are the few things that I’d like to see added to the game in future:

  • The toddler life state – this may be difficult as it would mean changing the core aging structure but I miss the little cuties, even their tantrums!
  • A city world – this might come in a pack as no base game has ever shipped with this so I will wait.
  • University – again I think this will come later. But I always enjoyed hedonistic student sim antics
  • The ability to swim in the sea / lakes etc – I’m glad they added pools for free in an update but I miss being able to get back to nature!

There have been a couple of annoying bugs but you come to expect that with new games and learn how to fix them.

Most have been fixed via game patches but others require a more manual solution. In instances such as the Sims No Longer Able to Cook bug I’ve used community minded Simmer Crinrict’s blog to fix it without losing my saved progress.

Summary

In all honestly I’m really enjoying Sims 4. I adore how the sims look and how light moves through the worlds. I also love how fast it is to load and how smoothly it plays.

Yes of course there are things I miss from previous generations but no I don’t miss the open world, I always preferred Sims 2’s game play anyway and Sims 4 is a good mix of Sims 2 and Sims 3 with its own touches on top of that.

I’m looking forward to what the Maxis studio provides us with in future. I’m very, very glad they are back on board as the main creators of the game. They have brought back the personality and quirkiness that EA led Sims 3 lacked.

Let me know what you think of it now we’ve all had some time to play.

~Kat

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12 of the Best Scenery Photographs Taken On My Lumia 1020 Phone in 2014

Anyone who knows me well will be aware that walking anywhere with me will often mean pausing as something catches my eye and I feel compelled to take a photograph of it. As my Instagram account can attest to this happens on a fairly regular basis.

I love finding beauty in the world around me not just in iconic scenery, although I am a landmark fiend, but also in the everyday world that some people take for granted.

The invention of camera phones has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and with my click happy habit in mind I chose carefully in April 2014 when it was time to renew my phone contract.

The Lumia 1020 phone could easily be best described as a camera with a smart phone attached. And for me that is absolutely perfect. It also contains my entire music collection which no other phone has been able to handle so I’m more than happy with it.

I’ve taken many photos on phones over the years but the ones from this phone, edited with a mix of the in-built Creative Studio and Instagram filters are of a far superior quality to anything iPhones or Androids can offer.

I don’t profess to be a professional photographer but I do have a keen appreciation for framing a shot and enhancing its best features.

Below are what I feel are the 12 best photographs I have taken on my Lumia this year.

View across the River Thames from the Tate Modern Art Gallery, London, UK

London is the city I live in but it is so much more than that. The city is a living, breathing entity which has a skyline filled with classic and modern architecture that changes every year. This photograph was taken from the sixth floor of the Tate Modern art gallery which is located south of the river. For me the view of the city is better than any work of art that the gallery holds. The Millennium pedestrian bridge leads across the river Thames to the north of the city where St Paul’s Cathedral keeps a watchful eye over the inhabitants and workers who occupy the more modern buildings like the curvy Walkie Talkie tower that can be on the far right of the picture.


Umbrella Art in Bodrum Town, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

Bodrum is a Turkish town that I have come to know quite well since my parents retired to live out in a village close to it. Located on the Aegean coast Bodrum is a tourist haven but it has a sleepy charm and is peppered by stone streets such as this framed by arches and colourful Bougainvillea vines. The best parts of it for me are the hidden side streets like this one which someone had taken the time to make into a piece of public art.


Chain Link Bridge over the Danube River, Budapest, Hungary

I was lucky enough to visit the city of Budapest as a part of a long weekend to watch the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix. The city charmed me so much that I would love to spend more time there. It is full of a rich mixture of architecture thanks to historical influences from Russia, Turkey, France, Italy and Austria and its people are friendly and helpful and the food is a culinary delight. It deserves far more tourism than it currently receives but lets just keep that our little secret.

Grand Anse Beach, St Georges, Grenada

The little Caribbean island of Grenada really is a slice of true paradise. Whenever I visit I struggle to imagine why anyone would ever leave. However leave many did in the 1950’s when work on the island was scarce. This included my in-laws. My mother-in-law still faithfully visits the island every year to spend time with the family that remained and this year was the second time we have joined her on that journey. If you want to spend time somewhere warm, beautiful and slow-paced than Grenada is a place I would strongly recommend.

Uxbridge Lock, Grand Union Canal, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK 

For the last two years I have worked in an office that backs onto a stretch of the Grand Union Canal. This is a blessing in the summer as it means I can escape the office for a walk beside the water. The quiet tow path is often shared with a plethora of water birds, including the area’s resident swans and even a couple of friendly canal boat cats who enjoy a fuss. When the lock is in action it can be quiet fascinating to watch from the bridge where I took this photo.


Eiffel Tower, Paris, France during the 2014 French Open 

The Eiffel Tower has to be one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the world. For two weeks every year a giant tennis ball is suspended from its centre whilst the city welcomes the world’s top tennis players to compete for the French Open title on the clay courts at Roland Garros. This year a giant screen was erected in the park so that people could watch the action in the centre of the city for free. Maria Sharapova and Raphael Nadal were the victors who had their photographs taken in front of the tower with their trophies this year.

Autumn in Northolt, London, UK

This is a very personal photograph to me for two reasons. Firstly it was taken five minutes walk from where I live and secondly it evokes exactly why I love Autumn so much. The last gasp of colour before the season changes has fascinated me since I was a child and this year this tree inspired the following description:
“The flames of autumn consume the bows of a tree in winter’s firm embrace.”

Kos Town, Island of Kos, Greece

Kos is a Greek Island that I have visited twice in my lifetime. The first time I was in my late teens and with a group of friends who partied all night and spent all day in the pool. In more recent times I was better able to take the time to appreciate the traditional Greek architecture rather than the allure of the aniseed flavoured liquor Ouzo.

Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus, Henley, UK

Henley Business School is situated on the same part of the river Thames near where the famous Henley Regatta takes place. I was there as a part of a team building exercise with work. However if I’m honest I think I got more from the beautiful quintessentially British countryside scenery than I did from the course we were on. Britain on a sunny day really can take the breath away. All that green almost, almost, makes you grateful for all the rain we endure at other times of the year.

Torquay Beach, Torbay, Devon

The UK can surprise you on a long hot summers day which inevitably sends city dwellers to the coast to soak up some sun. Torquay, on the south-west coast, is a brilliant place to be on that sort of day as it can rival any Mediterranean resort with its beaches, bars and restaurants. It’s just a shame it dies such a death every winter. I know this is true because I lived there for two years. I still enjoy a visit but I try to keep those visits to the summertime to see it at its best.

Tower of London taken from the river Thames, London, UK

London has a lot of landmarks but one that has taken a lot of publicity this year is The Tower of London. It played host to the frankly awe-inspiring installation of ceramic poppies to commemorate those members of the armed forces who died during world war I and drew unexpectedly huge international  crowds to it. The day I took this picture I was on a tourist boat with my husband and you could see the crowds surrounding the tower. I have never seen so many people there. Aside from the poppies it has always been one of my favourite London landmarks anyway because of all the history tied to it and the fact that it houses the Crown Jewels. If you visit London I thoroughly recommend putting it on the itinerary. Although I suggest ignoring your partner if they suggest, like my husband did, that you be dragged through the Traitors Gate that can be seen here.


Bodrum Town Harbour, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

The final picture of my 2014 collection is a study of bright colour from the patriotic Harbour of Bodrum town near the beautiful Bodrum Castle. Turkey flies its national flag with real pride and it is seen everywhere you go. I think the British could learn from that. Also if you ever do visit Turkey be sure to take a trip out onto the ocean on a Gulet. It is a wonderful way to explore the waters of the area and enjoy a tasty lunch whilst you’re at it.

So there you have it. The 12 scenic pictures that sum up my year and make me incredibly glad I bought my new camera phone. Let me know which one is your favourite and why.

~Kat