Back in March, before the world went sideways, I said that 2020 was going to be the year of me playing “something different,” and that “something” was going to be The Sims 4, the latest entry in this long-standing life simulator series, which I acquired via PlayStation Plus. Well, despite the fact that the world has gone sideways, or perhaps because of it, I’m happy to report that I’m in the process of sinking my teeth into all the (base) game has to offer. So, without further ado…meet Peeps!
After a less than successful go-round with the game’s tutorial with a character I had named Ingrid, I erased her from memory and created a young adult named Penelope “Peeps” Bradley. Having gotten a sense of the game thanks to Ingrid, I decided to actually follow through on creating Peeps’ “story” in the character creator, which is something I didn’t do with Ingrid. In short, Peeps is very concerned with making, and saving, money. A recent college-grad, she wants to be something of a fashion influencer, and she managed to secure an internship with a local fashion magazine. On the upside, she’s pretty happy and social; on the downside, she’s pretty clumsy, and only time will tell if her thrifty nature will serve her well.
For completion’s sake, I opted to go through the game’s tutorial again with Peeps. In it, she’s paired in a house with another young adult named Alex. While Peeps works, Alex doesn’t, and I’m left to control her while Peeps is away.
My issues with the game, as I outlined in my initial post – which concerned the game’s controls and my lack of understand how a Sims game works, generally — certainly didn’t go away this second time around. However, I did become a little more comfortable maneuvering the oddball point-and-click controls with a PS4 controller. It’s somehow both intuitive and intuitive at the same time, which I can honestly say I’ve never experienced in any other game. But, as I said, I got more used the controls along the way. So much so that, once Peeps had the house to herself (the game suggested that I create a second Sim, but I didn’t – Peeps is a loner, a rebel.) I decided to “renovate” it.
I understand that house creation is a thing in Sims games – the grand, palatial mansions I’ve seen are really something else – but my final attempt was immensely modest, as it only involved moving a few walls around to reduce the number of bedrooms from two to one, as well as moving around some furniture. Through this I learned of the game’s “build” system, and noted that with the “money” my Sim made, I could deck out the house as much as I wanted. I didn’t do much of that, but I did like that I could sell items as well as buy them, and change the color schemes of nearly everything in the house. But, for now, simple is fine for Peeps in her new one-bedroom abode.
With Peeps’ home in place, it was time to…um…live life, as it were. Without a second Sim to control, as was done in tutorial with housemate Alex, I wondered what would happen when Peeps went off to her internship. The short answer is nothing. When Peeps heads out for the day, the timer speeds by with the world outside speeding along as well. Come five o’clock in the afternoon, Peeps returns and the day’s timer goes back to normal. And, well…that’s just disappointing. Again Sims newbie here, but I didn’t know that I wouldn’t get a chance to guide Peep’s working habits. My actual time with Peeps is limited to sixteen hours a day, some of which (eight hours, it seems), is used for sleeping, which knocks that down to twelve or so hours a day, which leads me to better understand why the game wanted me to create another Sim. Eh, I’m learning.
Along those lines, I’m finding that there’s a decent learning curve involved in managing Peeps’ precious twelve hours. The game is helpful enough at telling me when she has to attend to basic needs, like eating or taking a shower or doing something at the computer (which she seems to enjoy). But outside of that, things feel somewhat haphazard. There are tasks that she needs to complete for work, some of which involve various skills – writing, cooking, painting – that level up over time. There are also my Sims aspirations, Peeps’ big one of which is to make a lot of money. Hence, she’s pretty much just working and sleeping, which I sure will work out just fine for her. (Also, sarcasm.)
So while I try to figure out her work-life balance, Peeps is happy to do as she pleases. While I didn’t think there’d be much to just watching a Sim do its thing, it’s actually pretty interesting. If I don’t interject, she will almost always end up at the computer or in front of the TV. And she’s receives lots of random visitors at night, some of which she knows and invites, like Alex, and many of which she doesn’t. What’s funny is that when she invites people in, after some undetermined time of socializing, she often goes to the computer (totally relatable), or to bed! And while asleep, the other Sims just continue to hang out in her house, or on her porch, until they decide its time to go home!
I’ll end with a quick nod here to the roundly bizarre Sims language. Nope, had no idea that Sims had a whole set of nonsense phrases that are seemingly used to convey emotion. So far from Peeps I get that “yibbs” means “yes” or “sure!”. And from Alex, something sounding like “shaba shoo kanoomey” is akin to “I agree” or “you are right.” I have no clue, but I’m guessing there’s Sims dictionary out there that I could consult.
Suffice to say, I think I’m having a good time with the game, even if I don’t exactly know what’s going on. My goal with my next session is to try to level up some of Peeps’ abilities – she already likes writing and is apparently good at fixing appliances, too. As well, I’d like to figure out just how much “control” I need to have over Peeps on any given day. What will she do if I do absolutely nothing? (Probably play on the computer a lot?) What will she do if I constantly interrupt her game-given tasking? What happens when she ignores all those visitors? The answer and more will arise next time! Maybe. I’ve honestly no idea.
All images including lede taken by author during PS4 gameplay of The Sims 4 © Maxis, Electronic Arts (2014).