Is The Sims 4 Still a Fail in 2020?

I think you already know the answer by now but you’ve come back for more! You sadist!

Hello Friends, Country-Peeps, and Romulans. 2020, the year of Lurg-19, and such a weird year it has been. But despite all things, don’t let it put a crimp in your style. That’s the official line. Aside from that, people aren’t the only thing that is sick. This article is written in British English (Queen’s) so if you see colour or some other strange spellings, you’ll know why (unless spell check missed it).

This is a super long article. I recommend that you bookmark it so you can absorb it at your leisure. I could have separated this out into parts but I know that a lot of people can’t be arsed to return to read more so I’ve left this as a comprehensive round up. Normally I’m reserved in throwing out expletives and curse words but I’m rather livid. You’ll see the extent as you go on.

If this is your first encounter with this subject material I urge you to hold your horses and check with the other two long writings in this pantheon. You’ll thank me later, as some of what I write further down will correlate with what I’ve written before, and you might need some of that ‘juice’ to understand the swing of my jib, the float of my boat. I always try to write an article complete but, this game is so huge that it needs more than I can give it with one article.

As a side note, before I get into this article, I had not planned to write my update this year. I’d planned to write the update towards the end of 2021 to allow some water to flow under the bridge, for some expansion, game and stuff packs to mount up. For me to percolate, precipitate and regurgitate some tepid bile but because quite a lot of ground is moving I fear I will lose some of the major events happening and need to address some before they happen, so as to have a pre and post reaction in this article. I started writing this on the 11th July 2020 because this article tends to get massive at each break and I want you as a potential buyer to consider your steps.

Another annoying note before I get started is the fact that just after publishing last year’s update, the University Expansion Pack came out. Dang it! I shouldn’t let that bother me though. I think it’s important to have had a play at this new content to give you an informed idea of where it’s at.

I have some form with writing this fail business. This is article number 3, birthed from a place of sim playing love that has spanned 4 game iterations. Take this advice from a veteran sims player if you are new. Everything I write here is on the level. I have no skin in the game, I’m simply a player.

In my last article, from 2019, I had seen an improvement in the game, it was feeling a lot better than where it had sunk. Some effort had been lavished, balance was fairly good. It was moving in the right direction I felt, or at least a better direction.

That was then…

At the time I started writing this, I’m a bit royally pissed off with the Sims 4, specifically owing to all of the clashes and bugs that have been generated by the Eco Lifestyle Expansion pack. It has seriously pissed me off to an extra level of pissed off. It is the kind of pissed off I used to feel with how the game was broken in TS3 and how I was waiting for the developers to frickin’ patch the bastard game before I could happily start playing it again. This expansion pack has broken the game in the same fundamental ways that Seasons has broken the game. I’m in a situation where my ‘prime saves’ cannot be played with until the issues I perceive to be a problem are fixed. It’s that bad. The team pushed out two patches but neither addressed any of the fundamental issues that are impacting the game mechanics. This isn’t what I’d class as a bug so much as a major design flaw and I’ll elaborate on this in a separate section further down.

I am also incensed by something else I’ve seen that makes me shake my head, roll my eyes and sigh. I’ll explain that too but for now ‘keep the powder dry’.

Quick Reference — Acronyms and Terms

I apologise for using a fair few of these but in order to keep track I’ve added this Quick reference guide. I’ll be referring to this throughout.

  • TS1, The Sims, The original released game from way back.
  • TS2, The Sims 2, many player’s all time favourite.
  • TS3, The Sims 3, the open world Sims and what I class as the zenith in many aspects.
  • TS4, The Sims 4, our current version. I would say has undoubtedly the best create-a-sim tool to date, despite missing create-a-style.
  • Studio — AKA The Sims Studio. The current programming and artwork developer that creates content for The Sims franchise. Was created as a function for EA from the remnants of Maxis and now produces the console and mobile app on top of The Sims 4 expansions. Came into effect in The Sims 3. Sims 3 being their first title in the new configuration. Consider them an entirely EA owned development company. They wear the business suit and are stained by the foul EA ichor.
  • Sims Camp — A bit like Space Camp but a shadow of that movie. This is where the Proletariat go to sample and be fed Sims Crap. They normally get a look at some new content coming up, and get to film some exclusive vids as part of the Game Changer programme. During the beer bug, aye Corona, this didn’t happen. Instead it was performed remote.
  • Game Changer — The Game Changer programme is something that runs out across the EA games domain, not specific to The Sims but to many EA franchises. You can consider it an affiliation programme where EA picks a subsection of hipster youth that are on the pulse, who have the weight of subscribers and target demographic viewers, and shills through them by granting exclusive access to otherwise embargoed content. Pre recorded footage is withheld and can be published after a set time window, with some accordance to placing the Game Changers sponsorship by EA in the video. You’ll know its an access video when you see a watermark floating around the screen. Whilst they try to look fair, the usual suspects always get the cream. I call those the “Sherbet Dealers”, they deal much by measure of sherbet. Sherbet is a powdered sugar that when ingested in sufficient quantity will make you feel very ill. In small amounts it is quite pleasant. You soon realise after a gorge session, wait a minute, this stuff is bad for me! Sherbet is often the choice treat of children. That’s the target demographic.
  • Maxis — A now defunct marque of a once beloved developer. Used simply as a banner to trick people into thinking that this game was made with love. Ah, sweet memory. See Sims Studio above.
  • EA — Electronic Arts, Distributor of the Sims Franchise and owner of The Sims Studio, Maxis, Origin and all related trademarks, reserved rights and copyrights.
  • Origin — The platform on which EA games are provided that require online elements to play. Also the store where you buy the expansions from. This platform provides the updates to the game in the form of patches. Origin is used both on PC & MAC. For console players updates are distributed through by the console platform (Sony, Microsoft), same is also true on the mobile app and the operating system (e.g. Apple, Android/Google, Microsoft, etc.)

Classic ‘Brown Mode’ Is Back

Centre is Fleur Bull, Lily’s Feng’s identical sister. As you can see, she’s put her hands through her nice summer dress. To her left but to our right is her wife Jalisa Bull, who is currently displaying a nice but excruciatingly painful wrist twist. And on the left is Fleur’s concubine (because “Free Love” for the win), the Pleasant sister you might know and love as Angela, who is displaying the rather annoying N.A.P. pandemic of “Clay Kneading Sickness”.

Brown as in Shit…

I’d just like to step in here and say to those who are angry; don’t make a prat of yourself on Twitter. Many of the devs (denoted by their id of SimGurus) are given the choice to be on Twitter to represent for The Sims 4 or not. Sometimes they post out fun stuff which just gets absolute hammered down by idiotic whinging. I mean, I am very sure that a lot of gripes are getting through to the QA team, there’s this poor guy buried under reams of requests. Though the gurus may seem like a bunch of syphilitic zombies when it comes to fixing the elements they broke when they were trying to make new stuff to extract dollar from us (not bitter much), throwing blind rage at them isn’t a good strategy overall. Strategy over tactics is better in the long run. Tactics to win the fight, strategy to win the war.

Back to the regular programming;

I thought that these days were done. I thought that at least in this era of the Sims that some mild thought was put into ensuring that nothing was done in the game that was so jarring that it wouldn’t cause a calamitous break that is so resoundingly bad that it puts people off playing for a prolonged spell. Of one of the few virtuous things that TS4 had going for it was the fact that there was no flaw so bad that it didn’t force the hand in the blender hard enough to force people away from playing. But, I was wrong. So wrong. We are back into that hideous TS3 territory. TS3 was fab to play but had some really woeful QC at times so much so that I had to stop playing shortly after the penultimate EP because the feature set was so wormy and un-optomised, and intense, that it just wouldn’t play right. It was painful, so unbelievably painful to play despite all the cool things you could do. But Eco Lifestyle has forced us into Brown Mode folks.

It’s the point where even the vanilla game (the unmodified) is borked. I generally play vanilla because I can’t be bothered to go back and update certain mods if they no longer comply. It’s hassle for me. Administration I could do without.

A side note worth a mention

T-Barring. Do you know what that is?

No, probably not.

It tends to happen when a sim or any 3D character model returns to a neutral state/crash state, it’s when either there is no animation, or there is an error occurring. When the sim pulls a “Christo Rendentor”. It’s a programme break, a reset.

Many 3D modellers who put scenes together, tend to pack the 3D models into neutral poses a bit like the above. They’ll pack them out of the way, and they’ll appear later. You might notice with some interactions lately in the Sims 4, you might be seeing this neutral/crash state a little more. I can give you one example you can easily replicate straight off the bat.

If you take your sim to a grill, and have the grossly underused (neglected) herbalist trait (you’ll need outdoor retreat for this), and with the necessary herbalist ingredients craft a remedy of any kind, after the said remedy is complete the jar of remedy will appear on the floor next to the grill and your Sim will have a fit where there is an incomplete action. I call this T-barring. So you accomplish the task, but imperfectly. I believe this skill used to work properly and the item would be placed in your inventory like it should be, but for reasons that are unexplained, it no longer functions correctly.

This isn’t the only observable place where this happens. There are interactions you might be performing where stuttering occurs. Where the action your sim was performing is simply interrupted without rhyme or reason. This is brown streak in its most primal state.

Why is this bad?

It just displays a complete lack of quality. It’s the kind of rubbish you might have to contend with in an early access game; unrefined jank but EA are content charging you full price for. What’s worse is that some of this content used to be refined, and has worked its way unrefined. My example is from a game pack, specifically the first game pack of the series; it’s now to some degree broken.

These kind of breaks in gameplay can quite seriously effect the tone and mood. Not only that, but they help to take you out of the game, break your immersion with the story you are trying to undertake. You play through your sim, but if they don’t act to instruction, it doesn’t help fulfil your machinations.

It’s quite possible I’ve missed a previous event of this brown streak. Because TS4 has a high player drop rate shortly after each EP, the initial novelty wears off and we are reminded ultimately how shallow the game is. There is always some drop off, even in previous versions (TS3 and TS2) but the drop rate is much sooner felt comparatively. There could have been a gap between my long period of not playing where brown mode (streak mode if you prefer) was in full swing. TS3 was a feature complete game in the base game. You could have a lot of fun with it, without needing a single expansion. It had plenty to do from the off. TS4 whilst claiming it had the breadth of things to do, was so much less satisfying. It was the gameplay mechanic in particular, and the build of the generational gameplay that was either incomplete or woefully unbalanced.

Thanks to: Fantayzia!

TS4 is a different beast to those that came before. It can receive updates pretty much on the fly. In that sense it can also receive instabilities just as quickly. The other issue is that I often get the sense with the Sims Studio (and I’ve alluded to this before in my previous two articles) that they simply don’t have the numbers. EA have put the studio on a skeleton crew. There is no dedicated patching unit. There is no dedicated development play test unit of sizeable quantity, which they sorely need. The problem I can see is that the team are almost perpetually working on new expansions which provides almost no time to fix existing bugs. From what was eluded to, it seems clear that some expansions are in development for a very long period, this could explain why the code drifts so badly, and why old issues return occasionally because old code is being worked on.

I thought I’d include this nice round up from Pixelade. He’s a fun guy (but not a fungus, you have permission to groan) and I have enjoyed quite a few of his vids recently so this helps to shape my point.

As a side note, I’d like to thank Pixelade for providing this information. I’ve linked to his specific video. I don’t think he was ready for the backlash that was going to spew forth in his comments.
A bit behind expectations. Didn’t cover any of the big bugs that are really cheesing people off.

EA, fix your shit! That Eco Lifestyle listing should be considerably longer. What are you doing? I want you chain coding all night (Actually no, then the fixes will be even worse quality).

Normally a break like that would amuse me from Russkii. I like the cheeky chappiness. It’s fun to see patch notes with quirks. That said when said patch notes are devoid of real patching, my thin veil of acceptance wears monofilament thin. That is a glove to the face. A rolled up newspaper to a dog on heat. Do better!

Pre Knitting Stuff — 23rd July 2020 — Patch 1.65.70.1020 / Mac 1.65.70.1220 / Console 1.29

As mentioned, I wanted to cover off the quick moving in this article as it came; poop warm from the butthole as it were. When it’s EA there’s always some degree of poop.

The next chance for Sims Studio to be ‘heroic’ was before the Nifty Knitting Stuff pack as we know that with every new expansion, no matter the size, the sims studio coders like to put out a small bug bash to secretly wedge the code in to make the transition a little smoother. With that, the studio normally do a mini sweep to address a few items as ‘cake’ to the ‘let them eat’, oh sorry, I meant ‘issues to address’ and ‘community/customers’. So sorry. Grrr.

Moving on…

Base Game Fix — item of note in pink
Eco Lifestyle Fix — items of note in yellow

So the fire-toilet issue for those who don’t even own Eco Lifestyle is now fixed. Rejoice! For those of us with eco lifestyle (it’s kind of like herpes), we have to make sure we have a bug box on the property if we choose to upgrade the shitter with the composting unit (which you’ll know is a requirement if you work from home in the new career). That’s a good fix at least. I never liked the idea of getting my sims nethers charred, Woohoo would never be the same. Justice for defecators and urinators is a dish best served cold, or at least steamy and body temperature.

As to the N.A.P issue. Hmmmmmmmmmm…. I’m not going to risk it for a chocolate biscuit. The mod I’ve installed will remain firmly in place. Whilst they have fixed the ‘bleed’ effect, they haven’t fixed the wider issue.

With regards to the Insect Farms fix, it’s good that they’ve changed the status but I doubt they have actually gone the full distance and corrected the game play balance. I would hazard to guess, though I’ve not tried it yet, that bugs are still too needy. I will play test this myself shortly but am already able to prophesize that it is unbalanced.

Post Knitting Stuff Update — 18th August 2020 — Patch 1.65.77.1020 / Mac 1.65.77.1220 / Console 1.30

A further patch came out after the Knitting Stuff pack, once again woefully understocked on actual fixes. However, one of the most annoying bugs was fixed highlighted in green;

In order to test this I would have to remove the mod that I’d installed by Homonculus420;

This mod fix was pretty good but it didn’t stop NPCs stealing paintings from shops. My big thanks to Homunculus420 for putting this tuning mod together. The other rather scorched earth strategy I committed to was cheating every single neighbourhood’s enacted policy to ensure that sharing is caring was not on the list. This can be done by using the ctrl+shift+c to bring up the console, followed by testingcheats true then shift clicking on the mailbox to find the option to enact N.A.Ps. If there were a number of undesirable N.A.P. policies already enacted I cheated these off and enacted the policies I wanted. For info, for those curious about what is causing the endless baking, clay kneading, music playing, stretching and other annoying behaviours, it is the N.A.P. policies. Each introduces derpish activity among the NPCs when they visit your home lot, or any lot you visit.

I took this mod off for a short while but found that the old characteristics were still in play. No sooner had I moved into a community with the sharing is caring issue, than Mortimer Goth was stealing a counter with the washing machine from my newly built abode. I then used cheat mode to promptly remove the N.A.P. policy and reinstated the mod above. (I didn’t kill Mortimer out of spite, though he was that close.)

More fixes on the slate;

Pixelade, bro, legendary work as always. I don’t Twitter as I’ve already mentioned so it was Pixelade who brought me this mention via YouTube.

SimGuruNick on 19th August 2020 at 1:51PM

Thanks as always to Pixelade aka Matt Giordano!

All issues I’d like a fix to as they are annoying as shit, so glad they are on the slate.

Pre Journey to Batuu (Butt’ole) Update — 3rd September 2020 — Patch 1.66.139.1020 / Mac 1.66.139.1220 / Console 1.31

Did much actually get done in this patch? Na. Nothing really world ending useful. It did add some new features which were useful including being able to elope to destination worlds. You can also stack windows now, mostly to enable the better buildings in the ‘Star Wars’ pack. In addition, they have allowed players to bugger about a bit with custom content and the graphics cards settings a little easier (Default.ini, GraphicsCards.sgr and GraphicsRules.sgr). So if you are a modder or a tweaker, or a balloon valve squeaker, you mike like this.

Nothing to see here folks. Colour swatches and shoe wear. Okay.

Hispanic Pandering (I mean heritage sorry) Update — 6th October 2020 — Patch 1.67.45.1020 / Mac 1.66.45.1220 / Console 1.32

Whilst I’m mean in my description, being given new things isn’t so bad. Yay to new things for free! That Chimi looks damn good. Making me hungry just thinking about it. A whole slew of clothing, new food that can be grilled, who can argue with that? The additional sprinklings are like some of the other free baubles we’ve been provided in the past, and I have no big issue with them (apart from the fact that in some cases, certain clothing that has been reskinned, is clothing you would otherwise buy in a stuff pack, and is being given away free, and no, no rebate).

The actual patch was meant to be the start of fixing the skin tones issues but I tried this out, flicking the option for higher res skins and it just made my game run like hot garbage so I promptly removed it again. I’m not running a RTX 2080 or anything as modern. I do have 16GB of DDR4 RAM (running at 3200 speed), I do have an 8th Gen I7 processor with 6 cores and 12 threads. I am running from a speedy SSD. So my Radeon RX 580 is not a world shattering card, but it’s not that old. It’s just mid ranged and unassuming (affordable). But the game runs like garbage. And if it runs like garbage for me, it is likely that anybody running anything under my specs is experiencing similar if not worse results. So, that round of fixing was a straight fail in my book.

Failed. It’s the pipeline of shit again isn’t it. Read on for details.

Base game fixes. The garbage can fix is actually a good one, hence the green.

The two orange items listed are concerning. I had noticed that the sims would just stand around the fridge after getting leftovers. I notice when in Batuu (yes, I bought that expansion, shame on me) when you buy something from hangar dock 7 you stand around the entrance rather than walking around to the seating which is a seagull’s spit from the said entrance. This still happens. So I’d say that this fix is not entirely perfect.

All good fixes. I mean, seriously! But why were they broken in the first place? Do you not your play your game? Do you not have a phone?

So, what would still be nice here is if you can get around to fixing stealing paintings off walls (still happens), fixing people dropping for pushups (still happens), and random interruptions to activities (still happens).

Shill Club and *Priorities*

Sherbet Dealers: Beware! —73g of sherbet wonder. The kiddies will be fizzing. And yes, I did enjoy this prop afterwards :)

I’ve gone back to disliking the ‘game changers’ again. I was nice to them last time, I don’t know what I was thinking.

There’s this terminology of partisan and impartial. You know that these gestalt ‘tubers’ don’t go out of their way to bite the hand that feeds them. They are tugging on the proverbial ‘dick’ for ‘juice’. Shill club are partisan despite their protestations otherwise. Don’t forget! And yes, partisan in this context, is a bad thing, a bad bad thing.

Spark’d — TS4 new reality show — Has the potential to be entirely wank. You heard it here first!

I worry that I’m becoming a crusty old bastard. I am 39 as of writing so getting there. Some might say “a bit old to be playing a kids game”, maybe. Why this gameshow bugged me was more indicative of where the world is right now, where politics is. What windbaggery is blazing right now. I’m not going to write pros and cons. You are a big boy or big girl or something in between, you can make your own mind up. You don’t need me to assign my blessing to your thoughts; ‘You do you’, as they say. That said; could everyone stop sharing so fucking much, ppplease! Wallow in silence, die quietly. Don’t show, don’t tell, don’t share on twatter. See a goddamn shrink, get real world help, thanks!

Spark’d is a gameshow that pits a number of teams with pro simmers against each other for a chance to win $100,000. Not a bad wedge as it goes. But it’s the chosen ranks. The best of the best shills. The gushers, the squealers, the sherbet dealers.

What has been getting on my goat recently (grippin’ my nards) is that these said pro simmers overshare their personal deets (sexual lifestyle choice, relationships, sanity level and political allegiance) a bit too much. Like all celebrities, I don’t mind if you keep some of that nebulous bull-crap under the veil of mystery, because predominantly it’s nebulous bull-crap, clue’s in the crap. More eloquently put, there is such thing as an overshare.

I am picking on two of the shills in particular, despite their protestations contrary to it. They fight it but they are partisan. Plumbella and English Simmer. I know, both Brits. I’m British, I should be on their side. It should be solidarity. No.

Shit in my mouth, why don’t you. That’s not a suggestion or order by the way.

We play games for escapism. I don’t want to be dragged into polarised views, thought bubbles, silos. I don’t want political nonsense coming into something that’s already contentious. No doubt the Sims 5 is likely to be shit, but did you have to bring Brexit into it, to be… edgy. To appease your Marxist commie buddies? See, I can do political too, but I don’t enjoy it, not really. I had a purge on Medium where I deleted all of my political articles because, it doesn’t help. Let politicians shoulder the bull crap, all you need to do is make sure you vote for who you want, and have your own internal compass. That’s it. My mother said there are two things you should never discuss, Religion and Politics. If you keep those out of a conversation more often than not, you can have a good day. So start already! If you are a Medium reader, you’ll already see the silo. You might be fully embraced to it, and what follows is mute but at some point we will have to come together.

In terms of priorities, Jesus H, Sims Studio! Could you concentrate on fixing those bugs please. Don’t get side-tracked with this fake emotional buckfuttery with your shill crew please. Please! Please?

Please!

Concentrate on doing a good job then maybe you can consider bloody victory laps. Maybe! If you can blow that much wedge on TBS, show your customers some love would you. Eyes on the prize people. Up from the wallet hole please. Thank you. Am I the only one thinking this? Man alive!

The Brazilian Leak — “That Space Pack”

No, it’s not one of these;

Those are leeks.

Circa 03/08/2020 (for ‘Mericans that’s 08/03)

I jest but EA can’t help themselves sometimes. We know what the game pack is roughly going to be about this year. Spark’d made a bit of a faux pas in Brazil when they showed a screenshot of the game’s loading page with the next game pack’s icon.

Pixelade, you rock!

It lead to a flurry of speculation but what it settled on by the 3rd August was something I had hoped was not going to make a big appearance.

Pixelade!

Star Wars bull-crap.

If you’ve been living under a rock you won’t know that Disney spent an insane amount of money building Galaxy’s Edge at their parks in Florida and California, and both rather fell flat on its face and broke its nose. This is mostly due to the very controversial (woke bull-crap) Disney iterations of the ongoing Star Wars franchise. This wasn’t Catherine Powell’s fault. It was decisions by such idiots as Kathleen Kennedy. Catherine had to sell what fans didn’t want. Not her fault in my opinion, I feel genuinely sorry for her.

EA (Evil Arts) currently hold the licence to make the computer games due to LucasArts being completely shut down. Over the period that EA have held the exclusive rights, they’ve barely done anything with it. There has been some mild peppering in TS4 as a throwback (or more a throw-up) to nod the cap. This was done before with the likes of Command & Conquer, when Westwood were still somewhat alive under EA’s mantle. If you look back at TS3 &TS2 you’ll see some artefacts of the Command & Conquer footprint. Certain elements from the criminal career crossed over with the C&C universe, and you could grow Tiberium crystals in TS3 (very lucrative).

Thanks to: SimsVIP

Batuu. One of the park focal points. In a system with three suns.

Meh!

I’d like to quote Pixelade at this point on something I agree with;

“I would totally sacrifice, you know, giving up the next pack for this year, the game pack, just to have bug fixes and to have things included in the game that we not only want, or have been wanting for years but things that we need! Not everyone can see themselves represented in this game, we need a colour wheel or, since a colour wheel is looking very unlikely at this point, more skin tone swatches. We can’t be getting all of these things for a game that players can’t even represent themselves in. To me that’s just ridiculous, I’m sorry. And I want to speak on this because I want to use my platform to share what’s right…” — Pixelade 2020

It is simple things like this, that make swallowing more expansion packs that take away from these fixes, a difficult thing to do. Quality of life is what we call this. If quality of life elements of the game aren’t addressed, overlooked, then the rest of the game isn’t going to total up to a product that we are going to invest more time and money into.

I’m a 39 year old white guy, and as Brie Larson might screech at me, certain films aren’t made for me. Like I give a fuck what an entitled ninny muggins says anyway. That said, I do play other ethnicities in TS4 and would like to think that they are handled every bit as well as the Caucasian element. If you are going to include other skin tones, you’ve got to do it right. In TS3, the colour wheel could transform your sim to entirely what you desired. In TS4 you are limited (in vanilla at least) to a preset number of swatches. Otherwise you have to rely on the Custom Content Community to fix your ills. It’s not good enough, simply not good enough.

That is something that always bugs me about EA & The Sims Studio. They always hang their coat hangers on the accolade of inclusivity. They can put in cool features like men being able to wear women’s clothing (for crossdressing) and allow intersexuality by deciding whether the sim pees standing up, and has a male of female frame and whether they can have babies or not. When it comes to basic values they can’t design things like taking your spouse’s family name when you get married right (from inception of the game), or when going to get married not being able to because supposedly you are having an inappropriate relation with an ‘employee’ even though you’ve broken up with every pink bar relationship you know. Immersion breaking bugs. Basic fixes that could be fixed relatively easily, and have been fixed by modders, but The Sims Studio coders have no appetite to work on. That’s what we are talking.

The Skin Colour Debate

I’m going to weigh in on this, but as you know, as you probably can tell already; I’m a 39 year old white guy. In a perfect world that shouldn’t mean my opinion is any less valid but with the political sphere the way it is, and the polarisation so significant as it is, people lose sight of their sanity (and humanity). People bark at the ceiling until they are blue, and nothing really changes.

I love playing with all of the colour wheel. I love my Black sims, my Asian (Indo, Middle East & Far East) sims, my Caucasian sims (I don’t class Hispanic as another type, It’s just white with a lisp and a tan, but that’s how it is in my country, it’s different in America). I love them all. Happy to play any subset. Have played all types.

As you might also know, if following this writing series or just from reading up above, I like my lesbian sims. My lesbian sims love the full gamut of colour and creed. I also play with transgender sims, same deal. Nobody is disbarred, unwelcome. It’s a heck of a party. I’ve played just about every combination of sim. I’ve even currently created a twin sister of Lily Feng who is married to another South East Asian sim named Jalisa Bull but they are in a poly-amorous relationship with the Pleasant sisters. Jalisa is girlfriend of Lilith whilst Fleur is girlfriend of Angela and because of the local N.A.P. of ‘free love’, they make a very happy poly-amorous union. That’s the kind of fun you can have with The Sims. I rather love it. Maybe it is perverse but I still enjoy it. There’s no game quite like it.

Fixing the skin tones at the granular level

This has been a problem for a very long time in the Sims 4. So much so that one of the Spark’d contestants happened to be a modder that made the Melanin Pack & Melanin Pack 2 custom content (Xmiramira) because as she stated herself, she had issues with the ashy uneven quality of the implementation and had to correct it to feel happy crafting a sim that met her specifications, a sim that could emulate her skin tone and make herself. There were many Black, Asian and Latin women out there that felt similarly. Hats off to her, full marks, bonus credit awarded, no joke, no lie!

This issue remained for an incredibly long time where other issues had been rectified a lot quicker. I’m never really sure what takes so long. Sometimes I even think that EA purposely stall easy fixes to court a bit of controversy to make some buzz appear around their product. There is a saying that goes something like “any publicity is good publicity”. Max Clifford, a rather scummy publicist in the UK, was rather famous for just that saying. He would propel his clients with some rather scummy news articles to get olden day clickbait. It’s nothing new.

Melanin Pack 2 — Xmiramira — Might I say at this moment, toxic as it may be, “Phwoar!” or “Yes Please” and “Which first?” Loving that custom lingerie too. Nice!!!

The fact that Xmiramira was a contestant on Spark’d did have a significant catalyst in pushing this agenda, and it was clear to see that a campaign had been put into the works by many of the popular YouTubers (re: shill sherbet crew).

How effective was this campaign, you might ask? Very effective as per this response from the ‘big cheese’ or ‘grand fromage’ herself;

Lyndsay Pearson — SimGuruLyndsay Executive Producer & General Manager of the Sims 4 (the chick who replaced Rachel Franklin), responded with this after a carefully formulated response to the growing war cry (Pixelade, legend again)

This is my dictation of Lyndsay’s release in blighty Britishan but there is an official release in ‘Merican included in Pixelade’s vid.

I want to address a topic that is near and dear to the sims; inclusivity is at the core of the sims franchise. From the beginning we set out to let you build sims that look like you or people that you know, and we understand that right now it doesn’t feel like we are truly living up to that promise.

We hear you and recognise we have not done enough to address the variety of skin tones and hair styles that you expect to find in the Sims 4. While we have made additions and improvements and fixes in the past, there is much more for us to do. We are making it a priority to release more options this year, as well as to address the visual issues with current skin tones, specifically to improve the blotchy artefacts and ashy tones. We’ve iterated on these before but we are doing a deep dive into our full pipeline to trace our assets through every step and compare for and afters to assess any loss in quality.

As we have demonstrated the sims is committed not to inclusion but to authentic and respectful inclusion which means we don’t do this work alone. We take our feedback from a number of places that inform the work and hold us accountable on our execution — and part of that accountability is communicating to you. We will strive to keep you as up to date and informed as possible, so, as a start, we are promising to fix the visual artefacts with existing skin tones and increase the number of tones available in the sims 4 this fall.

Our community is bigger and stronger than has ever been and we’ll continue to make sure that our players are heard, feel represented and are able to create without boundaries. We are blown away by the incredible craftmanship of our mod community and what they bring to the game, and the ways in which they have expanded on the sims 4 experience. There is no question that there contributions make the world of the sims better — however, we know this does not absolve us to continue to grow and improve as well.

We realise this isn’t one single fix for representation and we are dedicating people to ongoing commitments to continue improvement over the long term. Thank you for caring so much about each other and caring about your experiences in The Sims 4 and thank you for being part of our continued evolution.

Sul Sul! — Lyndsay Pearson — 12th August 2020

I have to take a breath for a moment on this one. It’s nice to see a statement like this but it pisses me off in the same breath. I like Lyndsay Pearson. She is many strides better than what we’ve had before. She had been a player of the Sims, and she worked her way up through the trenches to get to her position. That’s why I really like her. That’s the best kind of manager in my opinion.

That said. There are some issues here so let’s unpack them.

  1. This has been a problem for a long while. When I say a long while, since 2014 when the Sims 4 was released.
  2. The Sims 3 did it better from the ‘base game’ purely by virtue of a colour wheel in create-a-sim. The Sims 3 was released on 2nd June 2009. That was over 11 years ago to put things in perspective.
  3. The Pets expansion pack has a colour wheel for pets. Yet there is no colour wheel for sims. Why? Learn this word with me and say it; ‘egregious’.
  4. As ‘tubers’ point out, alongside many others, this only became a thing when white simmers amplified the voices of those black simmers who were up in arms. And by extension of Xmiramira being on Spark’d. Hmmm. Smoke and fire, smoke and fire!
  5. We are in a focal point of ‘wokitude’ at the moment, and thus corporates are leaping on the bandwagon of ‘black-washing’ to make it look like they are taking things seriously. A day late and a dollar short. Fucking corporate pantaloon wearing bastards. Yep, so that’s my subjective opinion but you know I’m right. The only person a corporate pantaloon wearing bastard cares about is themselves and to a lesser extent their shareholders.
  6. A lot of sherbet dealers lean on this campaign for clout. Specifically white sherbet dealers. You better fucking believe it! The Game Changer Goons, the EA ring kissers, those who say they are impartial yet are quite happy to be rewarded to play the game of Spark’d as one example. They may have not said boo to a goose before, but their anus is squeaking now. Do you remember Plumbella or the English Simmer complaining about black skin tones years ago? Or did you just hear the squeak of their butthole when this became a thing.
  7. It was nice to comment on modders and realise fault and ‘continued growth’ but you still are lazy as fuck. My rather hideous suggestion, dare I say, is actually at this stage in the game, reach out to some modders, pay them a fair amount, and integrate their excellent repairs. Even if that means losing a bit of your integrity. The Sims 4 makes fucking bank for EA. Don’t you believe anything else to the contrary. That’s why this franchise is still about because the observant of you will notice that anything that doesn’t make bank for EA doesn’t exist anymore. (Command & Conquer, Dead Space etc..). EA are never simply content with a good product, they have to make it a wagon for making bank, and experiment with bullshit that ultimately pisses people off and turns them away.
  8. You can get some things very right and yet drop the ball on the basics so very badly. There is no consistency anymore. Skin tones is a pretty important element when it is a major part of creating a sim. Besides the base game, 1 update and the vampire game pack, there has been no additions to skin tones whatsoever. There is one particular skin tone that I find unusable in the black skin tone selection. It is the ebony but very red tone. I don’t get it at all. I don’t understand why it was a selection. I also create a lot of South East Asian sims and don’t have a suitable skin tone for them. Most can rock a Caucasian tone well, and there is a slightly jaundiced skin tone but I feel there should be some more there. Because that section of the human race are often pale as fuck but in a slightly different way to Caucasian. If you’ve ever painted skin with acrylic paint, you’ll know what I’m talking about, in other words its not as simple as finding a flesh tone, you normally have to mix up a few colours to get it right, a one size fits all pigment isn’t normally suitable to get the job done. Because game design through the cry of ‘system overhead’ has been a mantra for so long, we are all collectively funnelled into a limited path of choices and those limited choices are wearing thinner now.
  9. City Living was the first sign of where I felt serious lazy diversity was creeping in. Lazy by virtue of the random name generation and how the wrong cultural names were assigned to the wrong phenotypes. They had some Asian names in there that could service areas like Morocco, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, however, I felt that the Indian sub continent was a little under represented. You don’t get many surnames ending with esh as an example, where in India and Bangladesh, there are many surnames ending with esh. Also, with regards to the Far East, there is over representation of Japanese names but under representation of Chinese and South Korean, not to mention Malaysian, Indonesian and the rest. It just seemed rather arbitrary, based on where markets for the game are highest. I was annoyed by how you could end up with a completely white Ayako Yakamoto that didn’t have anything to denote that she was in any way Japanese. And you know what I’m talking about so don’t make me write it. In the Sims 3, in World Adventures, three stereotypical phenotypes were taken care of. Chinese from Shang Simla, French from Champs Les Sims and Egyptians from Al Simhara. Whilst they were stereotypical, at least they came with clothing and names that were appropriate. And whilst there have been additions to the game that have brought Islamic, and other localised clothing wear to the game over various updates for free, they apply themselves very unevenly into the experience. You can end up having really barnyard explosions for dress because of their rather randomised inclusion into pre-generated NPCs. Though I don’t have pictures, I’ve seen all manner of bizarre dress involving the hijab that was provided. I don’t have an issue with that clothing, but it annoys me when it is deployed in a way that is immersion breaking. I understand and am aware that white women wear the hijab as well, but The Sims 4 does this in a way that is so ham fisted that it pisses me off. The thing is, it’s not consistent because in Jungle Adventure, I really like the local NPCs the game generates, and the names they attach to the Latin individuals. So in that vein, you can have white skin tones well catered for yet black ones are lumpy as fuck but don’t complain because you got black tones bitch! It sucks. It sucks D.
  10. Whilst Lyndsay stated that there is oversight, a committee of sorts for this diversity pandering, I’d like to know what that board consists of. She mentions that the community engagement is part of that, but to whom doth she speak. Is there a section of the shareholders who have a diversity stake? Which altar do they pray to? Is that flim flam doublespeak to appease? What would actually solve this problem would be a black member of staff who’s soul purpose is to deal with diversity issues of this nature. Thus such a statement doesn’t need to be issued in future. You just wheel out the black man or woman to announce a nice update, you don’t have to say that it is addressing community feedback, you can just call it continuous improvement. The result is that black people feel invested because they know they’ve got someone on the team that’s got their back, and us white folk get some extra stuff to enjoy, and everyone is mother fucking happy(ish). That person’s soul job is to make sure that diversity is deployed effectively, and they clean up anything that looks jank as fuck in that regard. Wouldn’t that be a thing! Considering that is the path that many organisations have taken, surely EA, who like to virtue signal, would like to get in on that good will? Though I sound deeply sarcastic, having a diversity developer cum spokesperson in the team, might not be such a bad idea? Considering that a black person’s dollar is as valuable as a white persons dollar when we get down to brass tacks, EA can afford another head in the team. Especially considering they save so much on having no QA team based on the quality we have endured since 2014.
  11. All these things that have to be addressed actually set us back on general fixes. I’m not saying that this stuff isn’t important, and I very much welcome better quality skin tones of all colours, and more of them, alongside more hairstyles that are appropriate (the afro haircuts vary in quality big style) and that the makeup can be used broadly over that family of skintones (I’m looking at you MAC). There are some very basic issues that haven’t been addressed since the inception of this version of the sims. And as we move on in years, I don’t think they will get fixed. Can we hope for more campaigns like this to propel quality and function forwards, or do we have to wait for threats like Paralives to light a fire up the Sims Studio and EA collective arse holes? At this current sub-turtle speed it is looking doubtful. As my father might say; ‘snail at a gallop’, but it’s more like a snail at a canter, or a hobble in some cases (in some cases someone took a salt gun to the snail because it was lame).
  12. I just wanted to go over this excerpt in slightly more detail; “…We’ve iterated on these before but we are doing a deep dive into our full pipeline to trace our assets through every step and compare for and afters to assess any loss in quality…” That’s very technical jargonese right there. For the lay out there, WTF?!? Deep dive into our full pipeline? Seriously?? How much shit have you got to crawl through exactly? Do you have to reverse back through the shit to get the before and after. Just increase the resolution, do a Todd Howard, 16 times the difference. Actually jokes aside this problem was already solved. Just ask a modder what they did and replicate. Fucking easy solution. Just ask Xmiramira. She was right fucking there at the Shart, sorry I mean Spark’d event. Opportunity missed? It’s all that foggy bong smoke clouding your good sense at the Sims Studio towers, isn’t it!

Update — 29th October 2020

They did some more to give an idea of what we are in to receive regards improved skin tones and I must say, it looks rather good. Just a shame it took so long to implement. Was it really that hard? It seems like they banged this out in no time. Amazing what can happy when people put their foot down.

Look at all those skin tones. There are even some whackadoodle ones in the Miscellaneous section. Yeah!

Video courtesy of Simmer Erin!

I’ll break this down like Erin did, just to give you an idea of what has changed.

  1. You are given that whole big list of swatches.
  2. Each swatch has a slider that makes each tone more customisable (just like The Sims 3 but with more skin tones, that is awesome).
  3. Makeup has 4 controls so that you can change not only the colours, but the opacity, saturation and brightness. (this is super awesome, because some of the makeups are great, but don’t look that great on certain sims, if you can tweak it before hand, it makes the makeups so much more usable.)

We’ll see how this turns out.

Expansions

We’ve got to that point again. That point where I share with you my salt. Refined from my armpits with the urea and other sweat related excreta removed for your condiment pleasure. You can pour this salt on your chips (to the Mericans; fries) to your heart’s content (or ill ease as there could potentially be a lot of salt, and maybe the odd armpit hair). Now, if you thought the salt upstairs wasn’t enough, welcome to the brine my friends. Saturated, ultra chlorinated, unadulterated heart stopping Sodium Chloride. Num num!

Despite getting clean in the shower, Luna Villareal is entirely worn out by that experience, her girlfriend liked it though. Shower Woohoo is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay :)

University is an old staple, present in both previous Sims games. I think overall I enjoyed the experience best in TS2, it had the best gameplay mix. TS3 was good but because the game was starting to ‘creak’ a fair bit by the time it was introduced (creak as in die from the structure growing too fat) it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as it could have been. That said, it had an amazing feature set and you could attend an actual classroom. TS3 had some weird things too with its version of University. You tended to have a specific piece of kit for each degree type and some lessons would involve you arriving at a location, whipping out your item and doing that en masse with your class peers. It was weird. It was very weird. I think I liked TS2’s the most because it actually felt like an authentic University experience. It’s quite a difficult pack to get all the way right and it has been diminishing returns.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some things with TS4 University that are great and I’ll explain.

Bicycles. This expansion brings bicycles. Hell yeah. Not only that, but on a lot of the existing worlds you can use these bicycles. Obviously better where you have flat terrain. But even this was implemented half-bottomed overall. Riding bikes is ‘quirky’ to say the least. They can end up cycling through the house and your sim’s bike can end up being left somewhere distant making you wonder where the hell you put it. The other problem is that Foxbury campus doesn’t have any flat space where you can ride your bike so it is only Britechester where you can enjoy cycling from your dorm to the lecture halls. I like bikes being a thing at least. They join brooms, sailing boats and jetskis as something to get around. But they’ll never be cars, the one thing that 99% of a true simmer craves. One other issue I forgot to mention is that occasionally the said bike can end up abandoned, sometimes you’ll come across an abandoned bike in the world that you can’t do anything with. It just sits there perpetually gathering dust.

Classes. I like how you can decide how quickly you can finish the degree. You can finish it in 3 terms if you choose 4 classes x3. You also get the chance to pick electives, which help boost secondary and tertiary skills that your main subject doesn’t cover. Also, you can take out a loan, which you need to repay. I like that, it fits with real life. Only problem is the loan itself is ridiculously low. Take Britain for example. In some of the big name universities you can be paying an insane sum per term. I remember when I was studying at Salford University in the North of England, that the University of Manchester favoured foreign students paying £8,000 per term (and that’s partly why I didn’t get in). That was back in about 1998 when the exchange rate between the US and UK was at 1.66% (circa 31st Dec 1998). A term then would cost a ‘Merican’ $13,280. Our exchange rate is nothing like that anymore(1.25% as of 23/07/2020).

I like the debating skill and the activity it provides though some of the debating contest could have been better scripted to make it a more ‘fun’ event. This skill is somewhat pivotal in helping your sim turn in the homework quicker.

If only computers really worked this way.

Robots. I can’t say objectively that I’ve played with these as much as I require to give an opinion. The tuning was out when they decided on what was needed to build robots. Too many constituent parts. You can’t make a profit from building them, because normally you require so many components to put one together, you’ve lost all of your profit. Your finger might also drop off, unless you do what James Taylor does, and use an auto clicker macro to press the buy button repeatedly. There is no quick way to buy a massive stack of parts.

Engineering. I also can’t objectively say I played with this element much either. A new career path which does unlock some pretty outstanding unlocks that boost your skills quite a ways.

Overall though, University in Sims 4 is boring.

It’s a grind.

You are doing work, in your valuable leisure time. Your sim going through the whole process is a hot mess. I’ve been to University in real life, it is a hot mess, but I remember it being more fun than this. I remember it being TS2 fun, TS3 fun. TS4 University is just rather… tragic.

You might claim I’m playing it wrong. But I argue that if it was designed right, I wouldn’t be bored.

Sims 2 and Sims 3 University were an adventure. Sims 4 University is very grey.

If you are in a dormitory, your dormitory buddies have a stick up their arse (ass). You’ll find these annoying passive aggressive notes by your sims bed indicating how much your dorm buddy hates your face. This then puts your sim in a bad mood. There’s something that mirrors this in Eco Lifestyle, but I won’t spoil that yet.

Don’t ask and I won’t tell. Alright, Lucas Munch is having a sexual affair with Clement Frost, I’ve said it. Don’t ever speak of this again.

I notice that the uni students seem to have some hidden debuff to their hunger needs. In other words, they are almost always perma-hungry. It could be classified as cute, but I find it annoying as balls. That’s my subjective opinion, compare notes with someone who cares. It’s when you couple this with the fact that you can’t build a cooker in any university building without using cheats (bb.freebuildmode), where it annoys yet further. I really wasn’t sure about why the developers decided this was a good choice.

Food for the food God.

There is a culinary degree and elective classes which without a cooker prove to be very difficult. Even those annoying sprites like a cake based offering. I understand perhaps a little of the rationale, but it was dumb. I realise that if you remove the cooker, it forces you as the player to acquire the portable mini-fridge and microwave and live on microwave meals in between the free offerings from the campus canteens (which are only open between set times, so if you are late you’ve missed it). The eating mechanic in TS4 means that if you eat too many poor meals (ones not cooked through the canteen, restaurant or on a cooker) will have a negative moodlet debuff that does push your sim into an uncomfortable mood (and that mood can be a pain in the butt). There are ways around this issue. And I’ve seen some of the shill club use cheats to modify the dorms to include an area for cooking. The noticeable thing is that the studio seemed to try and balance this by having the NPC dorm buddies bring a variety of group servings to the dorm. You could have the pick of some pretty nice meals, including the top tier Lobster Thermador. I don’t get this. It’s a clear case of the inconsistency of scope, of reason. It feels like the devs realised their mistake and tried to bandage it like they have with other issues in the past.

Secret Society. Not as fun as TS3, eclipsed by TS2. Involves busywork to satisfy spirits. Meh! A short summary, to an uninspiring feature this time out. I liked the clothing for the society, just the praxis, or more the implementation sucks a large ‘D’. It was ever thus.

Graduation as a thing. So shallow an experience it’s barely even worth talking about. At least with TS2 you had a nice video montage of the mortar board flying, you felt something. At least with TS3 you could invite your parents around to the event in good time to enjoy the thing. In TS4 its just a rabbit hole and after you exit the building it just feels anti climactic.

No proper cheerleading? I’m not American, as I’ve already indicated, but seriously. That should have been a thing. I know that the studio has held that back for another pack. They floated it as an option in a survey fairly recently. I realise cheerleading starts in high school, but I know that University teams are where it’s at. Another gap to fill at expense later. Cynical maybe, but you know it could be true. Will you be a mug and buy it?

The parties you could have in your dorm in TS3 were so much more inviting. Obviously you do get the keg stand option in TS4 but with how the whole system plays out, you always feel against the clock. I had so many parties in TS3 university. Way more fun than this. Sims 3 dorms were banging in comparison. I just remember much more fun parties. It was joyous, I was overcome with delirium at how joyous it was.

The world of Britechester is beautiful. Absolutely Beautiful. But has very few lots that you can make use of. It has this beautiful crafted series of terraced houses in the centre of Britechester itself, but you can’t move into any of them. They are all set dressing. Even the really nice ruins that can be found not far from the Secret Society toadstools, cannot be explored. This reminds me a lot of Realm of Magic.

Another undercooked Expansion. The insides are likely to give you Salmonella. If you can find a cooker to cook them on you might live. Be prepared to be bored!

Eco Lifestyle

Put on your seatbelt folks, this journey is going to get rough. You may find the sick bags in the side pocket, you may not, somebody else may have used them already…

On aggregate if all things are considered this had the potential to be an amazing expansion. But it tripped over its own penis and fell over the side of Everest hitting every sharp stone on the way to the base of the famous mountain. It’s a long fall as some hapless adventurers can attest, well technically they are dead but their corpsicle can provide insight as much as a corpse can. I’ll leave you with that image a moment. Think about it.

Cast your mind back to Get Together, Windenburg and that awesome expansion pack. Now compare. As Joe Angry Vargas from the Angry Joe Show might say; “They done fucked it up!” The big thing in Get Together was clubs. Clubs was such an amazing addition. I love the mechanic rather dearly. Such a good mechanic, good scope, well implemented and maintained to incorporate new packs. And then we have;

N.A.P — vis a vis Neighbourhood Action Plan; is a feature that was great in scope but poorly executed and has proceeded to break up the balance of the game royally. Even more royally than Seasons. It’s a double penetration of disaster people, I hope you get the full thrust of what I’m trying to say. That’s sadly not the limit of what’s wrong but I must fully inform you of where N.A.P is tripping over the proverbial dick. You vote on an action plan, your local neighbourhood, you can have a maximum of 4 in play. That’s fine and dandy. The problem is that the actions overlap other neighbourhoods, or at points ignore not being enacted and just work anyway (the work anyway part has been fixed as of 23/07/2020 (kinda)). The most egregious single act of these action plans is the ‘care and share’ action, one that pisses everybody off. Basically any sim can steal your sim’s shit on your sim’s home lot (and at important world lots) with gay abandon (gay in the old world sense, not in the homo sense, if you were unclear). The problem is exacerbated by the fact that whether this action plan is in play in your local neighbourhood or not, certain townies/NPCs are able to circumvent and steal your shit (they were allowed to do this with the kleptomaniac trait but it was to a degree that wasn’t pervasive enough to be annoying, I was fuming on occasion though).

This change to gameplay is very irritating. I know it is because I have a retail store where many of my valuable paintings “set for sale” have been plain stolen off the wall. I actually have to run with a MOD now, just for Quality of Life. I’m unhappy about that. This mod doesn’t address the stolen paintings either.

Ecological Flip Flop. No, that’s not a kind of shoe. The feature of how green, neutral or industrial your neighbourhood is, and how what you do is very arbitrary and unreflective to the responses seen. There is complaint on how it is very easy to turn things more towards green, but a lot more difficult to turn things towards industrial. In addition, it is very difficult to push the needle full green or industrial because the needle always likes to creep back to neutral. It’s like the shitty fuel sensors in cars of old, they’d take most of your journey to settle on a number, and even then it wasn’t accurate. I’ve seen the shill crew having to go to inordinate lengths to push that needle. Some have had to go around the rest of the neighbourhood and modify their homes to become green or keep their sims in their home without leaving for 3 days to try and push it over the line. This flip has been sort of addressed now, but was a pervasive issue for a long time.

I mentioned a mirror to University earlier. Let me elaborate. So your dormitory buds would leave you those passive aggressive notes, right. In Eco Lifestyle you have the enjoyment (or should I say displeasure) of an Eco bureaucrat in the guise of a N.A.P inspector arrive at your dwelling to tell you how badly you did with your bin care and inform you that your weekly bill is going up. Get out of here! Who thought that was a good idea? I mean to say, it’s nice to have some idea of negative consequence as it has been sorely lacking in the sims 4, but this is more an ‘irritant’. You can bribe this inspector but seriously. I realise Gretha Thunberg was popular a while back but seriously though. I’m all for green but this takes this piss somewhat. You are lucky there is no Grievous Bodily Harm or Assault with a Deadly Weapon Game Pack. This individual would be first to receive. Instead it might come down to a death by being bricked up, trapped in a pool or cowplant at this rate. Annoying! And to add to that, the N.A.P inspector just rubs your face in the problem that N.A.P.s is, even further.

Speaking of annoying, the insects that need ‘cupboardy’ love (micromanaged attention) to prevent a colony collapse. Some simple balancing would have done wonders here. Let’s talk about these insects and grubs for a minute. Remember seasons? We had a bee box in seasons, remember that? Basically the insect/grub box uses that mechanic with tweaks. Unfortunately the balance on these boxes is all out of whack. They need a ridiculous amount of time to look after. Circa 23rd July 2020 the colony death part was managed and repaired but the balance issue remains. Answer: Quality of Life Mods.

That’s not all folks, no.

Get used to this failure, it will happen a lot.
And this one…
And this one!

The fabricator. Oh, the fabricator. the balance on this guy is ‘borked’ too. Remember your way back to ‘Get to Work’. There was a machine in the scientist career that would cut and build your inventions. The fabricator is a cut down version of this, it’s meant to be like a 3D printer but it uses your stock of banana skins and cogs alongside a dye of your choice to create something from a list (that grows with the fabricator skill, and a few other interactions with other makers and through the new career) of items. As your skill grows in fabrication the difficulty level of the item goes up. Makes sense so far right? Then we have three individual instances of failure while fabricating. In each instance you receive back the resources you put into the production. The first failure is where the machine grabs your sim with its building arm/neck and a fight ensues with it in the forging pool. It’s a fun animation but gets old quickly. Second is the dye being sprayed in your sim’s face. Annoying as the first failure after a few times. Finally, your fabricator simply breaks with a damaged screen. Unfortunately the failure rate is much higher than should be normal. It doesn’t seem to scale with your proficiency in fabrication, more is just random as to whether it will complete. There is no upgrade that you can place on the fabricator to reduce its failure rate. This coupled with the fact that fabrication takes a while to fulfil means that it is annoying as shit. The balance here is wrong. There should be some failure because clearly the team has lavished 3 failure types onto this machine, but does it need to be this great? Is this laziness because they didn’t want to code a sliding scale of failure rate through the range or just plain laziness through lack of play testing? If they had play tested this, they could have saved themselves one animation at least. You be the judge. Needless to say, the only way around this at the moment is to employ Quality of Life mods.

Update: This issue was rectified but persisted for a long period, long enough to be very annoying.

Honourable annoying mentions; Industrial power generator. Great until it either catches fire (an upgrade being required to make it unbreakable at a high handiness skill) or being struck by lightning when placed outside. Ground situated wind turbine, see above. Ground situated solar panel, see above.

There are four things I absolutely adore in this pack. 4 objects of distinct enjoyment.

The Dumpster — S Tier — Rank 1 — Rags To Riches Master Class object

Man alive. I love this object. It is the source of pure joy. It is the heady joyous equivalent of the mining machine in The Sims 3. Your portal to wealth accumulation with a nice tinge of RNG (random number generation). You can dive for 3 wonderous elements in this artefact of bliss. Dive for deals which involves a whole slew of items from the build/buy menu that are of burnt condition, alongside some items that need repair and elbow grease, and the odd item that has no signs of any damage. (not to mention that you get some vintage items that were present in TS1 such as the old tube television and the classic table and chairs). You also receive some cogs and bananas for the fabricator or to fill your industrial generator, alongside the odd Simolean or two. You can dive for meals. And yes, granted, this sounds absolutely disgusting but it does provide you a good chance of finding the super rare plants such as the money tree seed. Then, if that wasn’t good enough, you can dive for thrills. Woohoo in a dumpster, any hobo’s Friday night dream (or any day of the week really). There are some minor activities as well, such as sorting for recyclables or compostables, which is cool if you need just a few more cogs or bananas to fabricate (if the mofo fabricator will comply) that new sofa you were after. You can even sleep in this bad boy. This is a house people!!!

The Smog Vacuum— A Tier — Rank 2 — Rags To Riches enabler

This magical hoover, fabricated from that bastard fabricator if it will let you, is the undeniable accomplice to The Dumpster. If you have this item, you are going to make such extreme bank. It is ridiculously joyous. All you need are some banana skins, and you can turn any burnt damaged item (including your stove and fridge and any counters that were lost in the fire) back into fully functional ‘BNB’ (brand new in box) items at the wag of a warg’s tail. If you ever wanted to defraud the insurance money from a fire, have at it. I watched James Taylor (formerly of the Sims Supply, now diddling Deligracy, speaking of too much information) do just that. And I approved (of the defrauding)! Acquiring the schematics for this puppy can be tricky, you have to go with the career path that came with this expansion, but it’s worth it. The career itself is quite fun, and you can work from home quite easily with the selection of work from home options that present. My only complaint on this item, is that you have to go down a very specific career path as the Eco Engineer and then submit a ton of eco design blueprints until you get it through RNG (random number generation).

The Juice Fizzer — A Tier — Rank 3 — Joy in ‘fizzy bubblech’ form

Oh man. Now we are getting very close to what I really want from the Sims 3 into the Sims 4. It’s not quite there but so darn close. I love this machine people. I want Nectarology so bad but this makes me smile at least. For those of you who know soda stream, or Kombucha, you’ll be into this machine in no time. Love this so much! Yeah!!! Three thumbs up.

Fizzy Bubblech is of course a reference to Don’t Mess With the Zohan, an Adam Sandler film. Though I feel some of his most recent works have been proper dog shite, Don’t Mess With the Zohan is unmissable for so many reasons. If you are from Israel and hate the weirdness of the portrayal, I can understand, but it was still a funny film in my opinion.

The Candle Maker — B Tier — Rank 4 — Fork ‘andles.

I love this guy too. If you are bored of making the other stuff, the candle maker produces some nice product. I love the candles that you can make with this, and it’s nice to have a functional consumable that has shelf appeal. The wax comes from the soy plant (so fitting for a hipster, especially considering you can whack that soy bean into edamame and your fizzer), a new addition with the pack, but you can buy this ingredient alongside the standard dyes from the machine. There are some special dyes that can be found by diving for deals in The Dumpster. The only reason it falls lower is that the interaction for it has your sim just standing around waiting for the candle to set in some instances of the higher tier candles. Wouldn’t it have made sense if you could step away while the wax is cooling? Do I often make common sense suggestions that weren’t obvious to the Sims Studio development team? Don’t answer that obvious rhetorical question!

The meat wall. What a kooky idea. I like it though. It reminded me of TS3 where you could plant meat and have meat bushes. That sounds kind of wrong, mind out of the gutter.

The vertical planters. Awesome!

The hydroponic plant holder. Awesome!

You can craft crafted meals from the fabricator. Awesome!

I love the shipping containers you can make in build mode. They even thought about the container doors. And choices of colours too. Yes!!

I love the eco and industrial wall papers and floor tiles provided with the pack.

I loved the grungy clothing and piercings that came with the pack.

I love the general style of the pack.

I liked the pre-made townies with the pack to a degree. But proceeded to throw up when I discovered that my favourite sherbet dealers had forged them during Shart, I mean Spark’d. English Simmer. There, I said it.

I think you got quite a lot with this pack in overall reflection. It just sort of blew up on the launch pad, and wasn’t supposed to. Disappointing when the Sims Studio were nearly there. This could have redeemed you for the year guys and gals. But you fucked it up through a lack of quality. Just balancing, and bug fixing. Maybe a little more thought on the N.A.P.s implementation. That’s all it needed. It was good otherwise. It kicked the living shit out of University in comparison. You rushed this one just like you rushed so many others. Fuck! FUCK!!!!!

One major boon for my gameplay out of this game is the Poly relationships it allows with the “Free Love” N.A.P. Before this, I had to have all of my sims obtain either through cheating or through grind to get the “Player” trait from the Serial Romantic Aspiration. That grind can be a bit of a slog, so this shaves off the corners nicely. I use “Free Love” a whole lot. It is a gift.

One of my Poly families. You might recognise, in part, the sim to the right. That is Travis Scott but with the female frame. He/She now has two life partners in Masato Okada and the muscly Veronica Quiroz. Travis, who is now named Taylor, has a baby with Veronica, named Michelle. You can have some fun in The Sims. It’s true. When things work good, they work good.

How I rate the sum of the 9 packs;

  1. Get Together
  2. City Living
  3. Get Famous
  4. Island Living
  5. Cats & Dogs
  6. Eco Lifestyle <
  7. Seasons
  8. University <
  9. Get to Work

Eco Lifestyle wasn’t that bad if you ignore the annoying shit it brings, but some of it cannot be ignored. It has forced me as a mostly Vanilla player to install mods. Mods which I have to keep an eye on. If it had been implemented with more play testing and a better feature set it could have scored higher. I think that those players who don’t have a penchant for the rags to riches style of gameplay, or don’t really gel with hipster gameplay, would find this pack repugnant. As it stands, this was a losing vote from a community survey (where Laundry Day was selected). I like it, but it leaves a bitter taste for me overall. As bitter as the ‘diving for meals’ interaction on my favourite Eco Lifestyle object (the dumpster). I might go as far as to say, stop pandering to the fucking unwashed Twitter crowd EA. You aren’t listening though, are you. University goes to 8 because I find it so boring. I’ve played a few sims in University degrees, and it just doesn’t strike a tuneful note. Your sim can do just as well by simply heading out into the world and cracking on. Maybe that’s true of how things are now, but by the design of this system, time over reward doesn’t add up.

The order for the rest hasn’t changed. It’s where it’s at. That’s it. That’s my subjective opinion. Another simmer may have a different view, fine by me. Vivre la difference. You do you. I’m so past caring at this stage.

How the new 2 weigh against the old 7;

In terms of quality, as quality is the yard stick. The new 2 measure short. They were both launched with issues, but eco had the major brown streak issues. If there was ever a bad time to have brown streak issues it was during a global pandemic when people are at home playing games to pass the time. For Fuck Sake! If there’s one time to shine, now is it, and you floundered like a flat fish gasping for its last breath. University was the better pack in terms of release quality, but overall hasn’t worn that well against contemporaries. It’s a situational pack that you might not use as often as other packs. I find the pace of the University pack to be too time consuming. There are parts of it where fun was needed but don’t exist. There are parts of it where the design of the world was off. Eco Lifestyle is great in many ways but so dankly woeful in others. It could have been legendary, but instead is infamous. It’s not a pack that anybody expected, and it had some shaky implementation. At least with Eco Lifestyle the team can claim that the pressures of Lurg-19 were somewhat reflective of the end product but that is a poor excuse for me. I’m sure this pack will grow on me more where University will fester like a boil comparatively.

There was a mild hint that an Expansion pack that was voted for during the recent round of survey, would be improved. I believe by the indications of the teasers from the SimGurus on Twitter that this points to University as the pack that will get some additional bolstering. I would have actually preferred that Island Living got the attention, specifically with regard to the mermaids and some more things to actually do (run a resort maybe) but I’ve come to witness the fact that we don’t have sane and rational people voting. We have window lickers and idiots at the voting booth. Even if we voted for something mildly good, somehow the Sims Studio would nobble it so that they could do what they wanted. I’ve seen it twice now. It’s just how it goes. Not that I dislike the idea of Knitting, but when we have options like pottery and sculpting, and glass blowing I just feel a ‘bullseye’ moment coming on.

Feature wise these 2 new packs had way more than some of the past offerings. The lots are tiny as usual. At least with Eco Lifestyle, the new world brought some additional apartments that were a good introduction in City Living (but even then, one of them had a balcony that you couldn’t do anything with unless you used a mod to place items on, apparently this was fully usable but for reasons, the development team annexed it). Nice to see them move into a different world. Casting my mind back to TS3, we only had apartments in one world that came with night life. I like the apartments! Great to have more!

The old packs are a motley bunch though have charm in areas. Two of the oldest of the three have perhaps the most enduring features (Get Together & City Living). Seasons adds a bit of unpredictability to the game but I do get rather peeved by certain aspects of the weather. I haven’t played much with the weather machine, maybe I should. I like celebrities (Get Famous) being around even if I’m not playing with them, and the animals from Cats & Dogs are adorable as is Brindleton Bay itself. Sulani (Island Living) is amazing; I love how beautiful the world is there. I often take a sim on a trip out that way when the weather is getting me down in the current world I’m in. Useful during Winter especially. Get To Work always suffered with the situational nature, you use it far less than you might hope. At the time it was a stop gap for more content, now it’s just really showing the cobwebs.

Snowy Escape

I was considering waiting to release this article to add Snowy Escape to the review but because The Sims has burnt my enthusiasm at this point, I’m going to pass until sometime next year (2021). I really can’t be arsed right now. That’s British for can’t be fucked, okay. Address your lawyer to someone who gives a crap.

Controversy;

Oh yeah. If you are a South Korean, you are probably close to boiling point if you are not a fan of the temple that is depicted in this pack. So what has the South Koreans spitting teeth exactly? What grips the nard of the Koreans so. What prompts them harbour this incandescent rage? Let’s find out shall we.

Thanks to Simmer Erin, you rock!

Korea Vs Japan

That is not a good place to delve and you can guess that The Sims team rather bungled this like they do with so many things.

Fact: The team would have been better to leave shrines out from the start.

I have no bones against the Japanese or South Koreans, I like them both (it’s difficult to speak of the North Koreans what with their communist isolation) but this kind of gaffe opens old wounds that clearly haven’t healed between these intelligent peoples.

This landmine step, this pratfall, bungle, facepalm, comes across as insensitive, and has upset Koreans. Because The Sims lives in what I class as an “Ameritopia”, America and Japan have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship as a result, we always have a degree of Jap-creep. Just look at San Myshuno as your measuring stick. Japan having a lot of their culture replaced/influenced by America’s occupation after the 2nd world war and a changed outlook and move towards pacifism following being nuked twice and having their arse handed to them and just basically made a bit less Japanese (which is to say less cruel), and America now being quite influenced by Japan’s popular culture in the now (the Beyblade and Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon bullshit of the now, the Waifu Idol Manganate Gachapon Anime of Now). Ameritopia is bound to favour Japan over other territories in the East, because they kind of know them. And Americans essentially being somewhat British with an accent can be… fucking lazy and ignorant. And I can say that because I am British. And even if you as an American, originated from anything other than English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, you were still incubated in English Culture, whether you like it or not. You can protest it all you like, but being American is being English cultured under the hood (or the bonnet as we say here), and enjoying those liberties that being English brings. Whether you like it or not, your most important document is based on the Magna Carta, an English cornerstone, you speak English, kinda, not the Queen’s of course, bah. I speak of the ‘Ameritopia’ because America is the core audience, the core buyer. EA wouldn’t give a ten dollar shit if nobody else in the world bought their game as long as enough bought it in… America. Everywhere else is a bonus, everywhere else falls under ROTW (Rest Of The World), an insignificant acronym. But as we know, EA like to go beyond for the dollar, but not in a good way. In a lazy template way. In a; how can we make fucking bank, with the least resources and the least outlay and the least effort inputted way.

Simmer Erin brought note to this reply from a concerned Korean;

This is the result of Orientalism. I know that EA likes Japanese culture. But this is too much. Korea had been forced by Japan. They forced Koreans to greet their religious buildings. Koreans had to be tortured or killed if they didn’t do what Japan wanted. Surprisingly, the religious building appears in the game.

Spread it out, please. Sims 4 snowy sports in Korea is now controversial. This is because it has a function called shrine worship. A shrine visit when Korea was Japanese colonial era, when Japan set up shrines everywhere to inculcate the Emperor’s ideology and forced Korean’s to pay tribute. The Korean position, the most painful part of Korean history, and yet Japan is justifying visits to the shrine, which justifies war and colonial rule. Many Koreans are angry that EA added this to the game. I’m Korean and these sentences are translated, so please understand that the sentences can be awkward. Many Koreans are also disappointed with Sims 4 and EA and say they will not buy this pack again. I am very disappointed and angry as a Korean about EA, which contains shrine worship in the game. Buy this game is your choice, but buying a game pack that justifies one country’s colonial rule and justifies Korea’s painful history that is still unresolved is your freedom. But I hope you know what this pack means and buy it. Thank you for reading.

Note: Inculcate means to instil (an idea, attitude, or habit) by persistent instruction. — Oxford Dictionary. What we in the West might refer to as ‘rigour’ or ‘conditioning’ but might in this context be considered ‘brainwashing’ and ‘dogma’ or simply ‘bullying’.

Culturally unconscious.

Question: But why didn’t you do your due diligence in the first place, pray tell? Why did you not involve a focus group? Why were you blind to this occurring?

Answer: Because you are lazy. You huffed too much bong and didn’t pass along. One Twinky coma too many at the important concept stage, only this was a shared coma.

Question: Do you do this at the right time? Do you do this ‘inclusion’ for ‘tokenism’ or for the ‘lols’.

Answer: No and a bit of both.

Retort: You aren’t committed, like this game, you are ‘playing’ at it and I’d say based on your past efforts, you are losing. All the time you stayed neutral and kept religion out you didn’t have to worry, but now you’ve come a bit close to the wire, and it stings, doesn’t it. After all that hard work by your team and the shills, you still had to fuck it up a little on the launchpad. You couldn’t leave it well enough alone.

And there’s more folks. More.

There were two Sherbet Dealers on the slate for this EP building the lots in this expansion. Two Sherbet Dealers who happen to live not all that far from Japan and Korea by virtue of Australia.

James Turner and Deligracy. If you’d have asked them; “Is there a bit of history between the Japanese and the Koreans?” their response might have been. “They are kind of like the two people you don’t invite to a wedding because they have ‘form’.” And then you might be prompted to ask; “Is it a good idea to put a Shinto inspired shrine into this pack, considering how kiltered this game is towards Japanese style as it is, and the fact that we want to sell it to Koreans too?” and they’d more than likely say; “Fuck no, you stupid Cockatoo fucking Galla!” At least I hope they would, after they got done sucking your genitals for the Game Changer dollar, of course. Preferential treatment, cough, cough…

I think we can all tell that sales of this pack in South Korea are not going to do well based on the initial feedback. I’d say if you are South Korean, stick to your guns, I know you will anyway but your feelings are important. Sometimes a boycott is the best thing you can do. I speak from experience on this as I’ve boycotted a supermarket chain for 3 years.

To the Japanese reading, no ill thoughts meant. Your country, like mine, has some stains in its past, ones that this current generation shouldn’t inherit but which are used against it regardless. Sometimes when I go abroad as a British person, I feel somewhat unliked in certain countries because I know that some unhealthy prejudices are stoked up and incubated. My country had managed to control the largest Empire the world has ever seen, but now, as a lesser nation overall, we still cop the sins of the nasty pieces of work that resided over those colonies in the past (the psychopaths, sociopaths and general nasty bastards). There is still some bad blood, some lingering anger many generations after. As long as you are a good person, none of that matters, but just be mindful that prejudices will be harboured that often have no grounds, on times long past.

Game Packs

There is only one… Neo. It’s been a while

I have built a restaurant, one I’m very pleased with though annoyingly, I forgot to add a bar which is one thing I’ll have to change but still, I’m very happy with how it came out, and I’ve incorporated the single best item from Eco Lifestyle into this restaurant. Update: I added the bar and my creation is available on the gallery. Look for me under hadjack. The lot is named Chez Luca De Andre. It’s not perfect but, I’m happy with it.

But on to our feature for this article… Deepest joys. :)

I may wish to drown in a bucket of these. For now I shall bang two. For those who have played, you know which quest this is. Let me consume this “semen schlurm”.

Journey to Batuu (Butt’ole)

“They fly now.” Oscar Isaac is going to regret that line, isn’t he. Yes!

Let’s talk a moment shall we?

Let’s talk.

Some key details you should know when I refer to this pack;

  1. I have actively boycotted all Star Wars movies and TV following the final prequel movie Revenge of the Sith. This Boycott has remained firmly in place since watching this film in May of 2005. With a minor exception to Star Wars Rebels, and a smidge of the Clone Wars animated series. My reason for this is twofold. Firstly I felt that the quality of writing in the prequel trilogy was so poor, and the acting so wooden, that I could no longer grace this franchise with my English pound. Secondly I feel that Star Wars as a phenomenon, engenders and pre-empts all the very worst traits for similar franchises to follow (it sets wanker trends). I’m a mega science fiction fan but I feel that Star Wars as an ongoing legacy product, doesn’t contribute, rather detracts from the whole. It’s a homogenised corporate bullshit, that has long expired in my eyes but lingers like that block of cheese that has been in the fridge so long that it has turned blue, and the mould growing on it has developed sentience.
  2. Because of my distinct boycott of anything post 2005, my views are partisan. If you want an objective opinion, this isn’t it. My views of Star Wars as a whole have been somewhat additionally imbued/poisoned (depending on your outlook) by the ‘Fandom Menace’. Specifically; Mauler, World Class Bullshitters, Midnight’s Edge, That Star Wars Girl, SC Reviews and Red Letter Media on YouTube (honourable mentions to Overlord Dicktor Von Doomcock, Mecharandom42, Geeks and Gamers, Heelsvsbabyface and Yellowflash2).
  3. This game pack is something that has taken the spot that a ‘feature game pack’ could have taken. This is Disney being mother fucking desperate because Galaxy’s Edge, and the woke Sequel Trilogy didn’t come together like they hoped. This pack is an advertisement for Galaxy’s Edge. A destination built in the Disney Theme Parks. I’ve not been to this destination, and if going to any Disney park in future, owing to my thoughts and feels on the new direction Star Wars has taken under Disney’s stewardship, I won’t be visiting Galaxy’s Edge. To be fed blue or green soy milk for insane dollar is entirely offensive to my sensibilities.
  4. Disney are fucking things up. The short and tall of it. I think Walt would be fucked off right now, though I don’t have the ability to convene with the dead. Bob Igor is a twat. Kathleen Kennedy is a spiteful fuck. George Lucas still doesn’t have a clue, despite how fuzzy people feel about the man who looks like he is now actually becoming Jabba by virtue of his corpulence on his many billions. The only upshot in that whole swirling soup of bullcrap is that Jon Favreau is there, the only twinkling that there could be some hope for Star Wars. They need to get to this quickly. I rate Jon, he’s a bit of a legend, if they let him do his thing, I think it can work out good. He got Iron Man started, and that got the MCU started, the MCU is the one side of Disney that works (though I feel it is in danger of stalling due to wokeness). Dave Filoni is there too, I’ve heard good things about him and he worked on two of the cartoon series that I enjoyed. Damage control is required stat before the ship burns up in the atmosphere.
  5. EA has exclusive rights to publishing Star Wars games. Why? Because when George Lucas sold the franchise and all its subsidiary elements to Disney, Disney decided in their infinite lack of wisdom, to shut down LucasArts. The legendary producer of not only awesome Star Wars games, but generally awesome adventure games (Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle among them). Back when LucasArts were around, other developers were allowed to develop Star Wars games alongside them. There was no exclusivity. Back in the golden era, there were plenty of good Star Wars related games floating about. Some might remember Knights of the Old Republic among other titles. I was a big fan of X-Wing, I particularly liked playing as the Empire, with TIE fighters, TIE Advanced, TIE Bombers, TIE interceptors and the like (and unlike some supposed fans, I can actually tell the difference between them). That was a time when I actually liked Star Wars. A long time ago, in a far away universe. EA, Evil Arts, now has total control, domination, dominion, strangle hold, neck pinch. When Disney needs fans to respond, EA dance like a prostitute, free money, yeah! Do they actually give a fuck about the Sims Community, no. They do like money though. They like green. EA’s record on their exclusive stranglehold of the Star Wars gaming rights has been woeful. They’ve barely released anything, and one game that was looking to be good was cancelled mid way through its production. EA suck, plain and simple. Look at Battlefront II, using microtransactions to promote gambling to kids. EA suck, indefensible, yet in the court of my fair land they coin the term ‘surprise mechanics’ in their defence. There is no depth they won’t sink in search of dollar. Remember this. They almost seem like the First Order in how they operate, they are just shy of destroying worlds with death stars, but give them time. I’m sure they are working on it with some added microtransactions thrown in. We have a special on the Vermillion coloured death star today, get it now while stocks last.

In a Nutshell

Fear me! For I am Australian Satan.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA: Drop what you are doing Sims Studio, hem in this cash grab, on the behest of the beleaguered Disney of whom we are making fuck tons from this deal. Keep these bitches sweet. Oh, and pop another shrimp on the barbie mother fucker!

Maxis/Sims Studio: Yes Mr Wilson Sir! {boot stamps on floor along with salute}

Lyndsay Pearson, CEO of Maxis: Gurus, brace for impact, it’s going to get rough on Twitter. It’s not like we’ll notice with all of the other shit we haven’t fixed. Might as well bury this while we are at an all time low. It’ll be fine. Paralives is a way off yet. Let me try and weasel it with some frank messages to the fans. Let’s get our sherbet dealers, I mean game changers, in on the act.

Average Sims Player: Fuck you EA, Fuck you Disney! Corporate Mother Fuckers!!! Fix my fucking game.

Old Star Wars Fan: You fucking twats. Nothing is below you is it? It’s like the Laurentian abyss, isn’t it? You don’t only scrape the bottom of the barrel, you go through the bottom of that barrel and chart the depths of a new barrel underneath it, one more universally grotesque than the first. If it’s not bad enough that I must die with the image of Luke Skywalker drinking the fresh warm milk from a giant sea creature titty (I mean why didn’t Rian Johnson just go whole hog and have Luke suckle the teet whilst wearing a diaper for the 100% embarrassment of the character) I’ve got to see the likes of this. Do you have no humanity? We know the answer and it is sadly no.

New Star Wars Fan: Yeah! It’s just like the park, called it. Whoop whoop! They fly now! Whoop Whoop! Wait a minute, this sims game is dogshit though. When my sim gets married they don’t even take the surname of the other sim. What the fuck? I’m going to have to complain to my wife’s boyfriend about this.

Eh…..

So, why did I decide to buy this game pack? After all that waxing lyrical about where I’m at with all of this.

It’s hard to put into terms. I think I bought this pack for the troll factor of it. I wanted a sniff of the trash fire, a good sniff. I wanted to pass out on its both noxious and obnoxious whiff. Does that sound weird? Yeah. I wanted to give it a go. For all the reasons and fibres in my soul, I wanted this pack, despite my contrary arguments. Does that make me a sadist, or an idiot, or both? I’m definitely a picket line crosser for this blatant dick move. Let’s find out together! Yeah! BTW, they fly now! If you don’t get that reference, respect!

There is something to the defence of The Sims. It’s not like seemingly unconnected universes haven’t crossed paths before, just people’s memories are a bit short on the details. Command & Conquer for those who are a bit young to the franchise, or young in years generally, crossed over with the Sims 3 with regards to the criminal career, and some other hints and flavours (and made appearances before then). It’s not like toes haven’t been dipped before. Baby Yoda appeared a while back in the Sims 4, and before that you could actually dress in some costumes that were Star Wars related if you chose to. This is just the extra step. I’m not being the guy at the Hague trying to defend a paramilitary general who ordered full scale genocide but Sims Studio put their toes in with less backlash before. It was just timing that was off here. It’s that split second where you cut your leg off with the chainsaw and curse yourself for being tardy, then realising that leg won’t grow back all by itself, because legs really don’t work like that.

Many sherbet dealers agree that this choice was out of Sims Studio hands. It was fausted on them by the ‘suits’, Andrew Wilson’s top dogs.

This is a difficult subject to talk on because it divides rather completely. There are many different sides to this so it is contentious by nature. By being a staunch boycotter post prequel trilogy (with the exception of Star Wars Rebels), I by virtue of all that is holy, hate this move. I’m a sims fan at the end of the day, and my opinion is that this ‘Swars’ pack runs contra to the nature of the sims. That said, I liked the Command and Conquer inclusions in The Sims 3 and some might consider those unwelcome bleed from another franchise, tomato potato? There are going to be some simmers who do like this content, and I’m not going to beat my drum over their head. You do you!

The argument is always there, that if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. With game packs at least, you can avoid stuff you don’t want. I love game packs compared to other packs in The Sims 4. Sometimes Game Packs are better than Expansion Packs. That’s not an unpopular opinion either. I think that people are especially pissed because this content overshadowed content we actually wanted. There are a lot of unfulfilled needs and wants by a lot of people playing this game. Producing more side order wank doesn’t check the right boxes. Game Packs have proved to be something that we could look forward to, in order to make the game a bit more fun, but unfortunately this entry is a side show that has little overall impact on the core gameplay. For many this simply crosses the red line of immersion. It’s simply more set dressing. Simmers have had disappointments this year, and the magnifying glass is on the game due to the pandemic. More hours are logged by virtue of people being home, and in some cases out of a job. There is a premium on escapism right now. They seek some jubilant free time, but The Sims 4 as it is, isn’t quite doing the stand up job it should be doing. This pack to many, is the equivalent of slapping a glove across the face, though this glove has been used recently to clean animal dung out of a pen, and hasn’t been washed. Colourful metaphors aside, attitudes to this rather pitiful output are growing thin. This pack thus garners far more hate than it should by simple merit.

My first reaction to the pack, after a cringe, was that it actually looked well put together. I know, shock horror.

In the quickest roundup of any pack to date, this is the shallow end of the shallow end of the pool. There are some details I really like but this pack is as about as welcome as a pork pie at a synagogue (because like many things in Hollywood both past, present and future, Jewish people and more specifically their seed money, are involved).

Getting some sweet sweet Twi’lek. You might want to get your kidneys checked honey. Oh, you actually were born that colour, that’s fine!
Troopers: Just cloud gazing Sir! Kylo Ren: Okay, I’ll just looking menacing and imposing over here then.

Perhaps the bizarrest thing about the “aliens” in this pack are that the alien features are applied as a hat in most cases. Yes, you read that right. A hat.

I thought it amusing that they gave Rey an English accent in Simlish. It sounds terrible by the way. It sounds like somebody mimicking English badly, and I should know being English myself. It’s as bad as having to listen to Dick Van Dyke (or Penis Van Lesbian as my brother-in-law calls him) in Mary Poppins. It’s bad. That said, Daisy Ridley does have a near estuary accent. I’m not far off that myself some days but her version is more pronounced. I didn’t realise because I hadn’t watched the films. If you don’t understand what you are reading right now, just nod.

Controversy — 25th October 2020 — “Whoops. you’re missing something”

As if that wasn’t bad enough…..

Pixelade — Once again, thanks.

Yes, you are seeing this correctly. But if you can’t quite make it out from what you see here; Origin vis a vis EA, tried to guilt people into buying this game pack through some shady commercial BS. They tried to insinuate that Journey to Batuu(Butt’ole) was a required pack that you needed to purchase alongside other elements when it’s not true and never will be. EA could say that was a ‘mistake’ and that those who are cynical are talking jazz, there was a ‘genuine error’. But we know that is bullshit, they’d only do something about it when called out about it, but would let it slide until they got in trouble. That’s called being amoral, or more accurately, being a blatant asshole. Come on guys, trying to make a worse situation out of a bad one, you dumb shits. I can’t replicate this epic guilt notification to take a more HD still for you because I legitimately bought the Batuu pack but I’ve taken some evidence here for posterity. Pixelade’s Dutch angle snapshot from another fine simmer’s video will have to do. What makes this all the worse is the fact that gullible kiddies will perform this purchase and it’s clear that gullible kiddies are the kind of capture audience EA wants for this game now. The kind of person who would rack up several thousand $ or £ worth of microtransactions on an unwitting parent for example. Stock EA bullshit.

I won’t defend the indefensible. You suck EA. You suck. Don’t even try to worm your way out of this one, you bad lads (and lasses).

Important item of note: I kind of have a thing for Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebel fame. She’s my kind of Twi’lek. Ahsoka Tano is my kind of Togruta too, just so you know. Equal opportunities for aliens!

How I rate the sum of 8 packs and 1 blatant cash grab;

  1. Parenthood
  2. Jungle Adventure
  3. Spa Day
  4. Vampires
  5. Realm of Magic
  6. StrangerVille
  7. Dine Out*
  8. Outdoor Retreat
  9. Journey to Batuu (Butt’ole) <

The order hasn’t changed too much. That said, Spa Day overall has risen in terms of my general use of the pack. It’s rather an invaluable game pack for a number of reasons, weirdly so. I’ve moved it from rank 5 to rank 3. Vampires and Realm of Magic have slipped down because I play with them less. I have played with Strangerville a bit more, very much like the clothing aesthetic of the pack but it’s a non mover. I built a decent restaurant for Dine Out this year, and plan to build some more. I have noticed that the wait staff in your own creations are pathetic, and that they’ll drop your plates regularly. It’s annoying as hell. I still haven’t fully engaged with running a restaurant, and that’s where I think I’ll be able to have more thought on this pack so the * remains for now. Outdoor Retreat is so woeful down there at the bottom. Overshadowed by Jungle Adventure. I love Jungle Adventure still, but nothing can challenge Parenthood. It has rather essential gameplay features that cannot be ignored. I wish they made more like these.

Owing to the egregious nature of the Star Wars game pack, Journey to Batuu (Butt’ole) can only ever score bottom of the poll. It’s the war crime that My First Pet stuff pack was to stuff packs. Regardless of whether I enjoyed it or not, it goes here with an undying permanence. Like count Dooku, by rights, my hands should be severed by Anakin, simply for owning this. Let all thee who buy this game pack, be thusly judged henceforth.

“Bell-end, you is!” — Master Yoda

Stuff Packs

I did something completely insane people. But only because of a sale. I bought all of the stuff packs that I didn’t have.

I will not be watching Spark’d.

So up until June, I only had the Moschino, and Perfect Patio packs. I bought Tiny Living and loved the features that came with it. But I decided to finally bite the bullet and get the rest. An insane choice, but considering the time spent playing I felt it was a small overall investment compared to the enjoyment I’ve had. I spent just around £103 for that, okay, you can officially call me nuts. I’m okay with that. It’s all part of the Lurg-19. I’ve had more time available and wanted to see what I was missing. I’m already too deep into this but you can choose not to be in it at all.

I can’t happily qualify my feelings on all of the stuff packs I bought in a bunch. I’m currently going through a complete world rebuild to try and do a Lilsimsie style remodel to address some of the crapola EA builds and introduce the new shiny shiny that came with these packs. I hear a lot of people saying bad things about Luxury party, but damn there are some good items in that pack!

I can’t definitely provide feedback on these packs just yet, I haven’t been through them all. And yes, I bought the pet stuff pack too, despite how egregious it was at the time (and to some still is). They are just small additions at the end of the day, but they do have some additional interactions that do add a small degree of enjoyment to the game.

What I can report is that the Moschino and Tiny Living packs are definitely worth it. I wasn’t sure, but the extra nuggets they bring are pretty decent. Moschino’s clothing may date fairly quickly but the photography skill upgrades and additional poses alongside the new freelance photography career add a lot to the game, more than you might think. Tiny Living is designed in a way for those who like to have small lots, has some decent furniture additions, and has some OP buffs if you can stay within the design constraints.

Sadly with everything that is given there are at times things that are taken away. The Patio stuff pack has been rendered somewhat inert purely on the virtue that every man and his dog has been provided a free hot tub thanks to the very undersold 20th anniversary of the Sims (but not only a hot tub, one that is sheltered from the rain) that makes the two hot tubs you get in the pack feel a little less useful. Fucking EA. Fuck.

The Roundup

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I bet you are dying now. Sorry folks.

Don’t buy this game. Definitely not now. The quality level has dropped considerably. It has approached The Sims 3 level of bad that I hoped wouldn’t swing around so soon. And it is more from laziness than anything else, because this game is so shallow that there is no real excuse for such tardiness. What I mean to say is that the programming team started out on a good foundation this time out, but this game has lost so much cohesion recently it just doesn’t work that well anymore. A lot of this cohesion loss is through bad design choices.

If you already have bought the base game, were gifted it, or got it free on Origin, or even got a deal on Steam, don’t buy the expansions. Save your money for a decent game.

Don’t listen to sherbet dealers. Sherbet dealers are bad for your health. I call them that, they are Sherbeteers. The Game Changers. The Shill Crew. The ring kissers, kissing EA’s ring piece. Though they will try and convince you they are impartial, they are on the take. Especially those that took part in Shart, I mean Spark’d. I keep doing that. Slip of the keys. I hate to be mean because I feel that a lot of these folk started out with good intentions but unfortunately are torn by favours to the crown. They’ve been exploited and courted by EA through and by extension of the sims team. And it is obvious. There was no Sims Camp this year, but you can be rest assured that if one had taken place, the shill crew would have been in attendance jizzing out over what they got to test out whilst they were pampered and preened.

Breathe now. Take a long deep breath from the paper bag, hold 4 seconds, exhale.

A Footnote on Paralives

And just to note, I have no skin in the game. I’m just an observer with an opinion, and what I’ve seen thus far excites me.

Look at that lighting folks! Doesn’t it give you the goose bumps just thinking about it?

Another competitor is looking to make waves when it’s released, though the time for development is unknown. The small indie team do have some excellent concept videos. The competition comes in the form of ‘Paralives’ and looks appear that this is a serious competitor. I look forward to playing it, straight up. I just hope that the development team aren’t drowned in expectations and that they hit the ground running. I also hope that because of Paralives taking away market share of this seemingly insurmountable monopoly in the life sim from EA, EA might try and up their game. We’ll see but I am quietly optimistic that regardless of how Paralives does, there will be some Newtonian response. The sleeping giant needs to wake up or be carved into patio slabs for all eternity. It’s a bit late in the day though, ultimately. Maxis had such a lead. I feel it may be SimCity repeating itself all over again but I’m past caring, whatever happens, after the torrid wake of TS4 is done, I’m out.

For Paralives news and info go visit the site here; Paralives.com

Speculation: Many strongly expect that EA/Sims Studio will try and launch The Sims 5 to try and upset the launch of Paralives. There may be an advanced team working on that game right now. But as we all know, they undercooked The Sims 4, and it’s likely they’ll undercook The Sims 5 in equal fashion. Whether that was purely a goof on the design team, or what I expect to be corporate appeasement to satisfy suits and shareholders, I know the resultant crap we are likely to receive. Personally, I’m going to pass. That’s me done guys and gals. I can’t be doing with this model for a game anymore. I find the cash gouging to be tiresome. It’s not like EA are the only ones who push out endless expansions either. Paradox Interactive do nicely on exactly the same model, as do Rockstar with the seemingly never ending bilge for Grand Theft Auto online, and the proverbial droogs who pay their dollar for shark cards.

Based on what we got with The Sims 4, I’m out. They don’t make good decisions. They are targeting the wrong audience. They don’t fix or improve what they have. They only react, they don’t predict or become proactive. Not a winning strategy. They just don’t listen, and when they do, they pay attention to the wrong things. They ask you what you want, then bend it to what they want to give you. You can’t help someone like that. Maxis was already dead, but this is an insult to the memory of what rests.

Maxis Obituaries (though these people aren’t dead, they are to the franchise)

Will Wright departed the Franchise in 2009 — Gone but not forgotten. I miss you and that thing we called The Sims.
Lucy Bradshaw departed the Franchise in 2015 — Sul Sul.

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