Retro Games - The Sims

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The Sims addiction

Playing The Sims can be likened to watching soap operas - you either love them or you hate them!

The Sims (which I incorrectly refer to as The Sims 1 for convenience) was developed by Will Wright and released by MAxis in association with Electronic Arts in February 2000.

The first thing I noticed about the game was that it took serious skill to control the miniature people. Your hand and eye had to adjust and if you started a large household, you needed to develop a pattern which would keep some household members busy sleeping, having fun or at work while you controlled the other household members.

So after a few yells of frustration and a little help from my children (yes I am a middle aged nerd) I finally began to play.

A career girl Sim.

The computer lets me pop the question!
The computer lets me pop the question!
All my work turns into worldy goods...
All my work turns into worldy goods...

My first Sim

My very first Sim was a career girl who struggled with the challenges of being in a good mood to go to work, eating, sleeping, having fun, making friends and getting promotions at work.

She laboured to pay the bills which arrived in the mail box every three days and attempted to buy the most tempting things from the store.

I had other Sims set up in different households and my Sim began to develop a relationship with those Sims, eventually finding a male who was compatible and working out how to trigger the computer to offer her the option to ask him to marry and move in with her.


Picture from ebay seller tcfamilyofseven
Picture from ebay seller tcfamilyofseven

Expansion packs.

I had hours of enjoyment playing the original Sims and collected all the add-on packs.

When you add an expansion pack, it adds a folder to your Sims directory, which you can see viewing folders in Windows Explorer. The expansion pack also adds clothes, furniture and interactions to your game.

If you are confident with file management in Windows Explorer you can work out where The Sims 1 has put clothing and items. This can assist you in adding your own items made using The Sims Editor and adding items created by other users. (More about this later)

How to manage your game files

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

House Party

House Party was a small pack which added items for theme parties.

It is a fun pack to have installed and does not alter the nature of the game, except you have to watch that you don't throw a party which is a failure. this is not a problem if you provide food, fun items and play the stereo.

Time to get a room.
Time to get a room.

Downtown options...

Hot Datecontributed the coffee stall which was especially useful for giving your Sims energy when they were out visiting. It also allowed the creation of restaurants and shops. It was a good pack to have installed for basic play because of the items and options it contained.

Lets have a community and some pets!

Unleashed was an especially valuable pack because it allowed the development of community lots in the main neighbourhood. It was also fun to have animals in the household. I prefer to play with Unleashed installed as part of my basic set-up. Pets can go to the park to be judged. This is a fun concept, but does not dominate game play if you want to focus on your family. However, pets can be very naughty if you just let them run wild!

The pool

Swimming.
Swimming.

On holiday...

Vacation allowed the player to create interesting areas for the Sims to go on holiday, and they could sleep there, whereas some other areas did not allow sleeping. Vacation spots ranged from the beach to the snow and there were more options for giving the Sims "fun".

Sim tinsel town...

For instance, Superstar added an additional newspaper which you could check for your popularity rating and also had some fantastic town options.

The aim of this pack was to make famous friends. It is a pleasant pack to play, and includes more shopping options. There is also a spa, Karioke and fashion parades.

However, I feel that this pack gives the player so many new goals it needs to be played independant of some other expansions.

 See the sims.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sims:_Makin%27_Magic
See the sims.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sims:_Makin%27_Magic

Going to fairy land...

Makin' Magic added spells for the Sims to develop and a magical town to visit. If your Sim qualifies it can move to magic town and live completely in that area. this expansion is excellent for a Harry Potter themed game as wizards can even "duel". However, I recommend the magic expansion pack be played independent of Superstar. Unleashed mixes well with the magic theme because then you can have a pet for a "familiar".

To expand or not to expand?

Some expansion packs, for example, Making Magic and Superstar, both of which added new community maps and goals to the Sims lives really altered the nature of the game and while it is great to have all the packs, I find it most conceptually satisfying to customise my Sims installation to a certain theme of packs.

The adventures of some roomates in the Sims Big Brother House!

Disasters in the kitchen.
Disasters in the kitchen.
The bedroom
The bedroom

The survivor compound!

Simulations

Knowing how the game worked, I began to feel a bit more adventurous. The game was called "The Sims" for some reason and it seemed to me that the name referred to "simulated" people and / or buildings.

Reality Television was big just then, so I set up a Big Brother style house and a Survivor camp.

With these television shows in mind, I set up a household and customised the yard. I created Sim 'people' to illustrate some scenarios I had in mind. I then used screen shots to record the fun and interesting things that happened in the "lot".

The Big Brother House was fun to run as overcrowded Sims may cause disasters like flooding in the kitchen, and traffic jams in the bathroom. Tempers fray and Sim relationships deteriorate. However, lots of toys and fun items in the rooms helps keep the Sims occupied and in some sort of order.

The Survivor set was much more challenging to simulate. Sims are programmed to like being indoors and surrounded by three walls and a roof. Items such as the campfire will make them sit in a circle and sing giving some "fun", but on the whole these Sims were stressed and uncooperative.

Freebies from the Sims Community

At one time there was a strong Sims on-line community and you could download endless user created items, and even whole house or community lots. You could also upload you families and photo albums to show the world.

I recommend that you open the US site as it gives the most options. You may need to register one of your games disks to get downloads, I was a registered user when I used to get cool items off the net.

* Note that you must have the basic Sims game and the correct expansion pack installed for the items that you download. Once you have downloaded an item you must unzip (extract) it and put it in your downloaded items (or user objects) folder within your Sims games files.

I have just checked that the official EA Games Sims site is still functioning. However, current downloads all appear to be designed for The Sims 3. If I manage to scroll back to The Sims 2 or The Sims, I will post another link here.

Hundreds of items that have been repainted or modified by other users are available for free through The Sims Resource. Most of these items are safe to use. The occasional item will cause your game to stall, simply exit and remove the item from your downloaded items folder.

These items are great for giving your Sims more clothing options and more interactive fun items. If you search hard you will find additional items for downtown and community lots.

Conclusion: an absorbing game.

While the Sims games have moved on to the Sims 2 and Sims 3, I enjoyed the simplicity of The Sims. Collecting up items and creating lots was an endless hobby and I found creative narrative uses for my Sims.

References

http://www.sims-hr.com/history-sims-games-facts-sims-games.html

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