Photos by Didz93 on Wikipedia

A SIms 4 “plumbob”. It tops the sim you were currently controlling, and indicates by color if their needs are met.

The incomplete guide to the Sims 4

A History

Sims 4 has been out since 2017, but its predecessors have been out since 2000. The simulator game is nothing new, either. Games such as Bird Week or Creatures have been around since the 80s, but Sims was really one of the first of its kind with life simulation. Of course, other games with life simulations like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley have since been released, but Sims was one of the first. The aspects of feeding, entertaining, and teaching little characters on your computer were not initially exciting but quickly shot to popularity. In 2002, it shot into popularity, becoming the most-sold PC game. 

Depending on whether or not you want to count spin-offs and game additions, there have been between 10 and 33 Sims games. They have been met with varying popularity, with some of the more obscure spinoffs such as The Sims Online having little success. Others, such as the main base game, have been met with more excitement. The Sims 4 has been out for about 6 years now, and has gained a lot of attention, bonus content, and is now free to play on all consoles. In October. EA announced that they were working on another Sims game, nicknamed Project Rene. Many speculate that this is the next Sims iteration, Sims 5 because there was not this long of a gap between the game releases. 

With the announcement of Sims 5 came some gameplay sneak peeks, and of course other information due to leaks. But with this information released, EA has come under fire for supposedly copying an indie simulator, Paralives. Clips with the two shown next to eachother highlight the similarities, with certain game functions like color sliders or object resizers being almost identical to eachother. Paralives has been public with its development, having been in progress online for several years now. Defenders of EA say that the functions are very basic and that it could just be that they had similar ideas at the same time. 

The Lifespan (Sims 4)

The game has developed a lot in its years of existence. Since the beginning, you are now able to change body shape, there are more options for DLC, and you can even port in your own mods, fully supported by developers. The fourth game encourages you to use cheats and gives you a menu to control what mods you would like to use. There are 7 age stages for a sim, with it progressing through the stages automatically. Baby, which lasts for 2 days, is right after your sim gives birth. The baby is completely attached to a bassinet and has no autonomy for itself, and you cannot control it either. Another sim needs to complete all of its needs, such as feeding it or changing a diaper, much like in real life. The next stage is toddlerhood. A toddler has slightly more autonomy, but still cannot fulfill all of its needs, at least not at first. The toddler timespan stretches 7 in-day games. As a toddler, the player can now control the sim. At first, a toddler cannot do anything other than toddle and mess around. With the help of an older sim or a tablet, it can be taught to read, talk, walk, and use the bathroom on its own. It still needs the aid of another sim to get clean and to get food. The next stage is childhood. This stage lasts for 13 in-game days. In this stage, a sim has more autonomy. It can play on playsets, get food for itself (although it cant prepare it with a stove, only quick meals from a fridge), and bathe itself. It also now attends school every day and comes home with schoolwork to do. There are a few pitfalls to a child sim, though. They can be scared by a Monster under the bed, and they still need adult interactions to learn skills. After a child comes the Teen stage. Teens have the same amount of autonomy as any adult sim. They are now able to interact with the stove to make their own food, instruments to play music, and the easel to make art, among other things. They now go to high school, but they still have homework in their inventory to do every night. They can now also form romantic relationships with other (teen) Sims. Your sim can now also get a part-time job, as a barista, babysitter, or retail worker. The teen stage lasts 21 in-game days. After Teen comes the young-adult stage, which lasts 24 in-game days. When your sim is a young adult, it no has the autonomy to live separately from the rest of your Sims family. Your sim now also can get a full-time job. Your young adult sim is now also able to get engaged, married, and have a baby. With being an adult also comes being able to gain more fears, as a child, you could e afraid of the monster under the bed, death, and fire, among others, as a young adult with a job, you can now also be afraid of a dead end job. After young adult, your sim becomes an adult for 33 days, the longest life stage. Not many changes from young adult to adult, except your sim has more noticeable facial wrinkles and is more capable of siring a child. After Adult comes the final stage, elder. Elder lasts about 14 in-game days, depending on your choices for the rest of their life. If you lived an incredibly healthy life, it may live longer, and vice versa. Elders are weaker, so they can’t exercise the same amount a  younger sim can. They can also retire. An elder male sim can technically still make a baby, but it’s unlikely. When the elder sim’s life is up, the grim prepare appears to take the sim. Other Sims can bargain for the Sims’ life, but in the end, the reaper will likely take the sim away, leaving an urn in its place. The urn can be displayed in your home or turned into a gravestone for outside placement. The living Sims can use either one to mourn the dead which has a chance of bringing the dead sim back as a ghost for a short time. 

The Setup (Sims 4)

In Sims 4, you can either create your own character or play as a preset family. You can build your own house or buy a pre-made one. You can either free-play or try to complete the goals of a scenario created by EA. If you choose complete free play, you start on the Create a Sim page. You can choose to create your sim from scratch, or play a little quiz and it will present a personality for your sim. If not, you get a blank sim personality and a randomized sim. You can change its name, age, gender, pronouns, sexuality, walk style, relationship to other Sims in the family, main aspiration, and personality. You start with age. Generally, it’s advised to start with an adult/young adult sim and build from there. Once you have an age set, go ahead and choose gender and sexuality. You can choose from specific gender settings such as whether the sim has a male or female body structure, which clothing style they prefer, whether they can pee standing up, and whether they can get pregnant or impregnate others. You can choose what gender they are sexually and romantically attracted to as well. Next, personality. First, you will choose what aspiration they want to complete in life. Are they a gym rat? Are they obsessed with academics? Fishing? Art? It’s all up to you. Next, you will choose personality traits. Are they lazy? Are they a food connoisseur? Do they have commitment issues? It’s all up to you. Next, choose what they look like! You can adjust hair color and length, facial/body hair, makeup, accessories, body shape, tattoos, and clothing. You can add up to 8 Sims into your family, but be wary of house space. Most preset houses only have one or two bedrooms, so you would have to construct a house, and you only have a limited amount of starter money without cheats. Of course, cheating in money is easy. But, if you’re starting with a new family, you can’t cheat in any money, you would need to place the Sims in a lot, give them the money, then have them move. Once you have a lot and want to create your own house, it’s relatively simple. All of the tabs are marked with pictures, and the game has a built-in tutorial to teach you to build. Most decorative items have several options for colors, and Sims are picky about a cohesive and nice-looking house, so be sure to set them up for success with a well-decorated house! Once your house and Sims are set up, you’re ready for gameplay!

The Gameplay

Now that Your Sims are created and a house is made, it’s time to get to the life part of the life simulator. Any child and teen Sims will already have been enrolled in school, but unless you use the story option to create an adult sim, you will need to use the phone tab or a computer to get a job. A teen sim will also need to do this for their job if you want it. Now, a sim will autonomously make choices for itself unless you turn off autonomy. Beware, though, they won’t always fulfill their needs alone. It’s best to make them take care of anything that needs to be done before it becomes an emergency, or else it may devolve into chaos. If you have a baby or a toddler sim, and all of the older Sims leave for school or work, they will either need a nanny or be sent to a babysitter during the day. Other jobs, though, can be planned so there is always an adult in the house. During the time that Sims are at school or work, you won’t have any access to control them unless you bring them home from work early. Sometimes, you can make choices with how they interact at their job or school, such as making a response to someone leaving a note in their backpack or a coworker spreading rumors. These choices, along with any requirements of actions outside of school/jobs will affect your Sims’ performance. Your sim doing well in your job can help them get promoted, and doing well in school can boost your grade. Things like doing a daily task, interacting nicely with coworkers/schoolmates, and choosing the “work hard” mode while a sim is at work or school can all positively impact your sim’s performance. Of course, hard work can negatively affect a sim’s mood. If a sim repeatedly works hard, it can develop a stressed moodlet. Moodlets indicate a Sims emotion and can affect different amounts of intensity. A moodlet can be happy, sad, angry, stressed, bored, exhausted, embarrassed, fearful, hungry, confident, inspired, or flirty. All of these affect the gameplay, especially if the mood is your main mood. Whatever mood has the most moodlets is your main mood. Happy can be a main moodlet, or it could boost other moods, such as creative or flirty. If a sim has too many exhaustion moodlets (a subset of uncomfortable), it will walk slower and may pass out. Too many negative moodlets can also result in death. An over-exhaustion for too long can cause the death of a sim, as well as embarrassment, anger, and others. Be careful to take care of a sim’s emotions!

The World

When you drop into the game, there are a few things premade for you. There are 3 realms to choose from when deciding where to live. Oasis Springs is a sandy place with several property squares and a few premade houses, Willow Creek has a town and a park, and Newcrest, which is completely open lots. There’s a town with some buildings and a park, a few pre-built mansions for some of the premade families, and empty houses and lots for your Sims. The town hosts a gym, a library, a nightclub, and a museum. Next door, there is a spacious park with trees ad playsets for child Sims. There are 7 preset families, plus many other lone townies wandering the world. Many of the families have homes premade in the game, but you can also evict them and move there yourself, or rebuild/redecorate them yourself. Sims is a near-completely free world game, where you can bulldoze any lot, edit any character, and change the builds at your leisure. 


Now you know a little more about the Sims 4, and the ways to interact with its world. I hope this inspires you to go play a Sims game, maybe even Sims 5 when it’s released. There are many games and well over 600 dollars worth of DLC just for Sims 4, so the game is diverse and can be completely customized to you.

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