Choose your family, then click any purple house icon to select that as a possible house. All houses can be bought furnished or unfurnished, though of course the furnished ones will be more expensive. The Schultzes have decided to buy the Shotgun Style house: they can buy it furnished, and the lot has enough room for expansion when it's time to expand.
Once the house is bought, the purple icon turns green. You're not immediately thrown into the lot, unlike Sims 2. This way, you can move in a bunch of families at once if you have made them. For now, I want to just enter the game, so I'm clicking the check button to enter the lot.
Once the game loads, it will automatically enter a tutorial to teach you how to get around. We won't bother repeating the step-by-step instructions here, but we may wind up repeating some of the information in the tutorial as the walkthrough commences.
All right, so the Schultzes are in their house, and they're ready to live! As the player, our job is to make sure their lives go according to our wishes. The first step to doing that is to understand the interface and being able to read the myriad of bars and numbers so we know, at a moment's glance, what is going in our little Sims' minds.
On the far left side of the interface is a portrait of every Sim in your family. Clicking any of them will select that Sim so you can give orders. Below that are the camera controls, as well as the button to open the menu to save, exit to the neighborhood, exit the game entirely, and so on. Also there are buttons to take screenshots or the button to start the in-game movie recorder. You can also adjust the display of walls for your house, and change floors that you can see.
To the right of that are buttons that take you to Live Mode, Buy Mode, and Build Mode. Live Mode is what you're doing now, living the virtual life. Buy Mode allows you to purchase stuff for the house, and Build Mode lets you expand the building itself. We'll touch on these later, once they become relevant.
The rest of the interface is specific to the Sim you have selected. To the immediate right of the mode buttons is a display of your Sim's current wish and promises. The wish is what the Sim desires at that moment. If you click the picture of it, you "promise" this wish to the Sim. In this case, Seth's wish is to join the military career track. By clicking the little tank, I promise him I will let him do so. Breaking the promise if I make him do a different career or canceling the promise doesn't have a penalty attached, so don't worry if you change your mind. If I fulfill the promise however, he gets a bit happier.
The military career is my intent for him anyway, so I go ahead and make the promise, which moves the picture to the four below it. Now he has no current wish (mostly because I've got the game paused), but he has something to look forward to.
While this wish was self-explanatory, some may not be, especially if you've just started the game. If you mouse over it, however, the game will give you a quick explanation how to fulfill it.
To the right of that are the time controls and a picture of the Sim's lifetime wish that you selected. Also there are the date and time. If you mouse over that small line that gives the date and time, a tooltip will pop up that tells you exactly how long you've been playing this family in Sim time. Right now it reads "Week 1, Day 1," though probably by the time I'm done with the Schultzes we'll be in week 20 or more!
To the right of that is where the real action is! The first meter, a vertical one, is the overall mood meter. This goes up as the Sim is in better shape, and goes down as they get upset. As Sims get into better moods, they are more inclined to follow your orders. Sims in bad moods especially will refuse to do displeasurable tasks like cleaning or studying. The little bubble at the top of the mood meter is, to explain it best, a mood overdrive. When the mood is that high, the Sim gets a constant influx of Lifetime Happiness Points, which we'll go over soon.
To the right of the mood meter is a picture of any buffs or debuffs (the game properly calls them "moodlets") the Sim has. These effects are typically based on some action the Sim has taken. For example, a Sim who bathes will often have the Squeaky Clean buff, meaning he just feels clean for several game hours, and feels good (i.e., gets a bit of a mood boost) as a result.
To the right of that is an arrow that expands or collapses the "Sim Panels," a series of eight tabs that give any essential information for your Sims. The first tab is the Simology Panel, which lists the Sim's name, family tree, age, favorites, biography, and traits. The panel is background information only, and doesn't really have much bearing on the day-to-day activities, other than the age.
The second tab is the Relationship Panel, which lists every other Sim the current Sim knows. You can mouse over their portrait to get more information, and click the filter buttons to see a specific group. Relationships are simplified to a single meter without numbers, but it's still pretty clear where you stand with a Sim. We'll deal more with relationships later.
The third tab is the Employment Panel. Once your Sim has a job, you'll get to see what career you're on, how much he's making every day, which days he works, and what skills he needs to get promoted.
The fourth tab is the Skills Panel, which tells you what your Sim can do. Skills are attained through various actions, and we'll deal with those when they become relevant too.
The fifth tab shows you the Sim's inventory. All Sims are equipped with a cell phone at all times, and all Sims start off with an item or two. Anything else your Sims earn go here, and you can drag furniture and other things into your backpack here to carry them around. Sims have huge pockets!
The sixth tab is the Opportunity Panel. Based on your career, skills, and other situations, you may get a chance to do something special with this Sim. We'll detail that too later, once Seth or Holly get an opportunity. For now, just remember that this is where you go to activate them.
The seventh tab is the Lifetime Rewards Panel. As you fulfill promises and wishes, the Sim gains Lifetime Happiness points, which you can cash in here for Lifetime Rewards. We'll go over those in another section, but they're all useful with no downsides.
The final tab is the Needs Panel, which is probably where you'll spend most of your time. This list six needs: hunger, social, bladder, hygiene, energy, and fun. Hunger is filled as the Sim eats. Bladder is filled (ironically) when the Sim uses the bathroom. Social is filled as the Sim interacts with others ,though what may fill one Sim's Social Need could actually lower another Sim's, so personality plays a role here. Hygiene is filled when the Sim bathes. Energy is filled when the Sim sleeps. Fun is filled when a Sim does an activity he enjoys, which is also based on personality.
For Sims vets, you'll notice that the Environment and Comfort are gone. Instead, those issues are affected by personality and just directly affect the mood. For example, a Slob Sim doesn't care about messes everywhere, so it would have no effect. Neat Sims, however, would take a serious hit to their moods if they were surrounded by flies and dirty dishes.
Now that you've got a handle on the interface, it's time to unpause and start exploring Sunset Valley!
Seth and Holly are not exactly satisfied with the state of their house, but they need money to make it into their dream home. I've already promised Seth that we're going to get him into the military, so that's what we're going to do next.
Just like the other core games, Sims can find a job through a computer or through newspapers. However, you only get a limited selection of jobs in that case. I don't want to roll the dice here; I want to get Seth into the military career track immediately. Therefore, we're going down to the recruiter's office now and enlist!
First, I give Holly the order to read her book in her inventory. This will keep her busy so I don't have to worry about monitoring her. Then I select Seth, and click the "Map View" button just above the camera controls (or I could hit M on the keyboard). This zooms the camera all the way out so we see the whole city.
There are some filters you can select here, so I'm picking the Jobs filter. This reduces the map tags to only the red-colored dots with symbols on them, each of which represents a different career. The military career is represented by a tank, so I find the tank dot and single-click it. The camera zooms to the building. Clicking the building brings up the famous pie menu; from there, I just click "Join Military Career." Seth heads over to the building via a cab, and you're given a description of the level 1 position of the job. It's better than nothing, so I accept.
Notice that Seth's boss is named: in this case, it's Erin Kennedy. Having a good relationship with the boss helps promotion chances, and having a bad relationship hurts them. Seth is definitely a loyal guy, so any relationship he has with Erin will be strictly platonic.
Now, it's Sunday, so he doesn't have to work. That doesn't mean he needs to be idle, however. All employment buildings allow you to take classes to improve skills. Naturally, the skill of any given building greatly helps that building's career, but it can be used in other careers as well. For example, the military building offers a Handiness Class. Taking this gives you a point of Handiness, i.e., the ability to repair stuff quicker. While Handiness greatly helps you in the military career, it has uses in other careers, as well as obvious use around the home. He can only take one class of any given skill once. Further, he needs to save his money, so he decides he's done being out on the town for now.
Seth is on his way home, while Holly finishes up her book. Now, because money is tight, Holly decides that she's going to get a job as well. However, she doesn't want a career; she wants to just make enough at a part-time job to help out. There are many buildings around the city allowing you to get a part-time job, but none are in any career buildings. For example, because she enjoys reading her book, she decides to pick up a part-time job at the local bookstore.
Okay, in Map View (the M key remember), the Jobs filter shows all buildings offering careers only. If you change the filter to "Community Locations," the career dots don't disappear, but other dots do appear. Any new red dots show positions of buildings that are hiring part-time workers. Clicking this lets me see where the bookstore is (the tag with the book on it naturally). I click the icon, then I choose "Get a Part-Time Job."
This has been a decent first morning, but as Seth comes home, he nearly vomits at the state of his house. Look at that god-awful tile in the bathroom! It's time to check out Buy and Build Modes.
Buy and Build Mode are where you get stuff and build stuff, respectively. Seth's current complaint is that the chairs at the kitchen table and the flooring of the bathroom are hideous. I think you'll agree...
To enter Buy Mode, press F2, or click the button that has a chair and a lamp to the right of the camera controls. Here, you'll see graphical sorts of everything Buy Mode has to offer. Before buying anything, Seth decides to sell off the crappy chairs. There are two at the table, one in the corner of the kitchen, and one more in the bedroom in front of the desk. To sell all of these, I single-click each chair in turn to pick it up, then press the delete key to sell it.
With that done, Seth clicks the Dining Room tab, then the graphical representation of chairs, then picks the Yankee Doodle Dandy Dining Chair. Notice that I can slightly customize its finish: I'm going with light wood for now. There's additional customization I can do, but I'm not going to worry about it at the moment. Anyway, I buy three Yankee Doodle chairs: two for the table and one for the desk. For the fourth chair, I go into the Living Room tab, hit the Living Chairs sort, and buy a Swank Living Room Chair for the corner of the kitchen. Now, this looks a lot better...
Still not great, of course, but it's a start. Now, I go into Build Mode. The graphical representations of what you can purchase here are the same. We want flooring, so I click the floor part of the cutaway house. Because bathrooms are usually covered with tile, I click the tile tab, then I pick the large two-color tiles.
With the mouse over the bathroom floor, first I hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys and single-click. This picks up and sells the tile that's already there. If you don't do that, and just directly place the tile, you cheat yourself out of any money you could have made from the sale. After the ugly tile is picked up, I place the new tile by holding SHIFT and clicking. I do the same for the walls, and my bathroom now looks like this...
Also not very attractive, but better than it was. While Seth is in these modes anyway, he goes ahead and sells off the second bed and everything else in the second bedroom, as he and Holly don't need it for now. With the additional money, Seth bought a couple phones and a burglar alarm. He still doesn't have a TV, but we'll get one soon.
Seth's and Holly's jobs start tomorrow, and they've spent the whole day apart so far. They're young and still crazy for each other, so they decide to spend the rest of the day together and being romantic.
Holly gets home second, and immediately decides to move in for a hug. Or rather, I give her the order to. To do this, with Holly as the selected Sim, I click Seth. First, you pick the category of the action you want to do. In this case, I pick "Romantic..." New options pop up, and I select "Amorous Hug." Simple as that: that's how you increase relationships and keep the fires burning at home.
As the two hug, in the top-left corner, you see an update on their relationship, as well as what the target thinks of the action. Here, because Holly is the selected Sim, the game tells us what Seth (the target) thinks of her hug. Seth specifically believes Holly is being flirty. If they were strangers and Seth wasn't into romance, he'd actually be repulsed by this, and the relationship would go down. However, these two are hot for each other, and this only increases their relationship.
They continue being flirty and such until the evening, when their stomachs start calling. Holly has the Natural Cook trait, so she makes a meal... but before we get to that, let me take a quick detour here. Holly has also studied, so she's got one point of Cooking. Go into the Skills Panel, then click the little icon to the right of your skill baubles.
This pulls up the skill journal, which is a rather incredible source of information. For the sake of cooking, it shows various milestones Holly can achieve, as well was what she is lacking. Here, she can get an award for preparing at least 50 meals. She knows 21% of the game's recipes, and the meal she has prepared the most is listed as well (although right now, she hasn't prepared anything, so nothing is listed). Also listed, specifically for cooking, are the ingredients it takes to prepare the dish.
Knowing all this is extremely important for social Sims. Once Holly gets really good at cooking, she can start being sure to prepare the favorite meal of a Sim she is trying to befriend. This will give a bit of a mood boost to the target, and make them like Holly more.
That's all in the future, though; for now, Holly can only make macaroni and cheese. To do this, click the oven, and you'll get a pie menu with "Serve Meal..." and "Make Meal..." The former lets you make a large serving that feeds multiple people. The latter uses fewer ingredients but only makes the meal for one. "Make Meal..." is obviously preferred for single Sims.
With the meal prepared, Holly uses the command "Call Household to Meal" on the serving bowl. This summons Seth too, and they eat together while chatting. This is by far one of the most important social interactions, because when a group of Sims eat, they all gain relationship points with each other! This is a great icebreaker to make friends... which I'll demonstrate in a moment.
Unless your Sim has Commitment Issues, getting promoted is a sure means to an end: it leads to more money, better hours, more prestige, and other powers that enrich your life.
The first thing Seth does to help himself at the job is to change his work effort. See, even when a Sim is actively working, you can still select him. When you do, check out his action in the action queue at the top-left corner. There's a dropdown bar that lets you set his "job strategy," per se. For example, you can work extra-hard, which decreases the time it takes for a promotion, but increases their stress. You can set this at any point during their work day, and you can mouse-over the different options to see what's available.
Seth for example has the option to schmooze his boss to specifically increase his relationship with her, or hang out with other solders to increase relationships with all of them. He can also work extra hard as previously mentioned, or he can slack off and make a paycheck but not get promoted at all, effectively stopping his stress at work. Adjust this as needed: if your Sim is stressed out and needs an easy day, change his work effort to compensate.
Those are just light, trimmed strategies, however. To ensure he gets promoted, he needs to concentrate on two specific ideas. First, Seth needs to go to work in a good mood. He needs to be fed, well-rested, and happy before taking that car pool or biking to the base. Second, Seth needs to work on specific job skills to increase his chance for promotion. Check out this screenshot of the Employment Panel for him...
This shows both aspects in smiley face-form, and you can mouse over either face to get more detail. As you can see, Seth is in a great mood... but his Athletic status is a neutral yellow face. This is because he currently has only a single Athletic point. Now check out the Skills Panel...
See how the Athletics baubles have a glow around the first three? That means for this job, it's in Seth's best interest to get three points total (at least more is always okay) to ensure promotion. As such, Seth is going to bust his butt working out... which also makes Holly enjoy his washboard abs all the more.
Now, Sims 3 works a bit differently than in the past when it comes to gaining skills for jobs. Eventually in this career track, on Seth's Skill Panel, baubles 3 through 6 may be glowing for example. This means he'll need a minimum of 3 Athletic to get promoted; if he has 2 or less, he'll actually get demoted. If he's got 3, then he can at least eventually be considered for promotion. At 6, he's at maximum efficiency for promotion at that level. At 7, he's still at maximum efficiency to be promoted (there's no penalty to be beyond the top glowy bauble), but I could have spent better time inflating his other skills instead. In short, you want to stay within the glowy range, and higher is better, but don't fret too hard about hitting the top glowy bauble.
Eventually, Seth gets an "Opportunity" from his job. Opportunities are specific situations that you can choose to take part in. Opportunities always ask you to give something up in order to gain something else. For example, here we see that Seth has been given an opportunity to stay late at work because several soldiers fell ill. If he accepts, he has to work and extra shift, thus losing family time and leading to him being more stressed. However, it can lead to a quicker promotion, or some extra cash, or bonus objects, and so on.
Seth goes ahead and accepts it here. Several hours later, it was reported that his extra shift was over... and he gained relationship points with all employees in the military track! That's a good eight starting relationships for just a few more hours of work! Definitely worth the trade-off there.
Life isn't all about the job, after all. Eventually you'll need friends, if for no other reason than to keep that social meter nice and high. Plus, having friends can lead to additional Opportunities for more money. This is actually Holly's actually job: to be the stay-at-home wife and mingle to increase the family's status.
Right now, the family still needs money, so she's continuing her part-time job at the bookstore. In the meantime, however, she's trying to make a few friends. In the old games, this process was kicked off by a welcoming party, a small group of neighbors who would greet you when you moved in. This is no longer guaranteed to happen it didn't for the poor Schultzes, so to meet their first friends, she needs to hit the town.
Anyone Holly runs into can be a potential friend. When Holly went to the library, for example, she met Molly French. Any interaction at all will get you the other person's phone number. The next day, Holly took the logical step: she selected the phone, picked "Call Sim..." from the pie menu, then selected "Chat." You could use "Invite Over" to offer them to pop over for a visit, or "Invite Out" for a friendly gathering at a community lot, but Sims may decline those if their relationship is too low. Right now, they barely know each other, so Holly is choosing to Chat, because it's never rejected.
Holly and Molly chatted about... well, about whatever women chat about, something I probably don't want to know the details of. Looks like shoes, according to the screenshot. Anyway, it takes awhile before a Sim will agree to come over. You'll want to actually invite them out to a public place for a day or two and get to know them properly there. After that, then you can make an invite over. We'll fast-forward a couple days here, when Molly decides she actually does want to come over.
After Molly accepts the invitation, Holly checks to make sure she doesn't have an active debuff that could hurt the social progress. She notices that the trash can is overflowing and smelly, so she takes it out. That would have made for a terrible first impression!
Now, Holly is a bit hungry, but for a social gathering this is actually a good situation. When guests arrive to your home, they will always be a bit peckish, and as previously mentioned, relationships move very well when Sims chat while they eat.
Holly greets Molly when she arrives, then uses the Invite Inside command. Then, Holly serves up a plate of pancakes to break the ice. Once the meal is done, she chats with Molly and try to gauge what she enjoys doing. In fact, one of the best actions she can do early is Special... > Friendly... > Get To Know, as this can help you quickly figure out the target's five traits, though she has that one due to her Friendly trait.
It will take a long time before Holly totally figures Molly out, but once she's got it, she'll be able to exploit Molly's traits for maximum social gain. For example, if Molly winds up having the Loves the Outdoors trait, Holly will focus her social efforts during outdoor activities.
That said, you should never sacrifice your own Sim's happiness just to make a friend. That sounds incredibly selfish, but it's pragmatic: for example, if you're playing a Good Sim, and you see another Sim is an Evil Sim, it will be almost impossible to get them to be friends, just because they'll act against each other. If two Sims have mutually exclusive traits, it's best to just move on and try to befriend someone else. Even if you did manage to make the friend, you probably wouldn't be able to hold onto him or her for very long. Some Sims simply aren't meant to be together.
Unlike the previous games of the series, there is yet another option to get some one-on-one time with a friend. You can now visit others' houses! In Map View, you can filter the tags by your friends' houses, but you can still go to anyone's house on a whim, whether they're tagged or not.
Watch your cursor as you hover over houses: if the icon turns into a hollow house outline, no one lives there, and ringing the bell will be a waste of time. If the house icon is solid, then someone at least lives there: click the house then, and the pie menu will display a "Visit the [family] household" option. If it's grayed out, that Sim family isn't home. If the option is actually there, then you can ring their bell and hope to start a relationship. Here you can see Holly heading across the street to visit the Sekemoto household.
When you're invited into someone else's house, remember that you need to be on your best behavior to make a friend. You don't own the place: don't open the fridge, don't sleep in their bed, don't take a shower... Don't do anything you wouldn't want that Sim to do in your own home. Well, I take that back: if your Sim has the Inappropriate trait, they will actually get a kick out of doing that stuff, but the other person still won't like it.
Seth is halfway up the Military Career track, and he's hears his biological clock ticking. The family has a small savings, and another promotion for him is around the corner. He and Holly jointly decide: it's time.
There are two ways to get a new bundle of joy. If you're not keen on having your own, or you have two homosexual Sims, you'll need to go to the phone and select the Services option, followed by Adoption Service. A social worker will arrive shortly, and allow you to choose the age and gender of your target. If a Sim kid has been removed from a household, there's a chance you'll get him or her if the age and gender sync up. Either way, after you make a selection, you'll soon have a new family member.
Seth and Holly decide to do things the natural way. Because they both have the Family-Oriented trait, either one can use Special... > Family-Oriented... > Try For Baby to get things going. Otherwise, both Sims will have to use the Relax command on the bed, followed by Try For Baby. Using the Woo Hoo command is... uh... a practice round for things.
Sims' moods play a factor here: if both Sims are happy, the chance for having a baby is extremely high. If one, or especially both, are in bad moods, they may Woo Hoo without a baby, or the action may be rejected outright without even trying. Seth and Holly want to be absolutely sure they have a baby, and their days off sync up. After a morning of a good breakfast, a couple showers, trips to the bathroom, and some dancing...
If it works that is, if pregnancy does happen you'll usually get a single melodic line of "Rock a Bye Baby" as the Sims come out from under the sheets. It doesn't always happen, and there are more sure signs later. I hear it this time, though we still don't get visual confirmation until the next day...
All right, morning sickness! Woot!!!
...Er, sorry, didn't mean to sound heartless there. This might be nine months of pure hell and discomfort for Holly, but at the end of the journey, she and Seth will have a beauty baby girl or boy.
Well, not quite nine months, luckily. Gestation for Sims is only three in-game days, starting from the morning after conception. Or more simply, the baby will be born three days after the first sign of morning sickness.
During the pregnancy, Holly will suffer dramatic penalties to her Energy and Hunger needs, and will continue to have nausea throughout the days and nights. If at all possible, someone else (preferably the good-for-nothing jerkface husband who made her like this, of course) should do the majority of the work around the house, while Holly rests as much as possible. Like real-life, limited exercise is okay, but no one expects Holly to jog laps around the entire city or to do 400 reps on the weight bench.
Meanwhile, while pregnant, Holly will get time off work. Again, she uses this time to stay as rested and in as high a mood as possible. Nothing extremely bad will happen if this advice is ignored (The Sims 3 doesn't simulate some of the real-life tragedies that can occur of the woman doesn't take proper care of herself), but due to the speed of Need decay in the woman, she'll need and deserve constant attention to keep her happy.
Eventually, it will be time for the baby to arrive. Holly and Seth drop what they're doing and head over to the hospital ASAP, where Holly is in labor for roughly 2 to 3 game hours. Eventually, the baby (or babies!) will come, and you'll get to name him or her.You can then name the baby (or babies!)
Welcome to Sunset Valley, Troy Schultz. May you lead a fortunate life!
Troy is born with one personality trait at random, though it is not based on any that the parents have. In this case, Troy is born with being Artistic. You as the player get to choose a second trait as well, anything you wish, though you cannot cancel the original personality choice. In other words, I can't pick the Can't Stand Art trait, as Troy's Artistic trait prevents me from doing so. I declare him a Genius!
Once back home, Seth and Holly buy a crib and place it in the bedroom. After that, it's pretty simple for them to keep track of the baby's needs, now that you as the player can actually look at them for the first time in the series. Babies don't have to worry about a Fun meter, but you'll have to make sure the baby's diaper gets changed (filling the Hygiene Need), and given a bottle to avoid hunger.
During the first day, Seth decides to skip out on work to help with Troy. When you no-call no-show to your job, your performance takes a hit and you don't get your paycheck, but you're not immediately fired. If you make it a habit, though, you're finished... One occasional day now and then won't kill you, especially when something important (like caring for Troy) is in the balance.
Troy naturally will wake up and cry whenever any of his moods hit critical, and his cry will wake up Holly or Seth even from a dead sleep. If the crying is ignored for too long of a period, Social Services may come along and take the baby (and any other children in the lot) away, removing them from the neighborhood pseudo-permanently. Seth and Holly also need to stay near the baby at all times, or at least have a babysitter on the premises if they leave. They can go a short distance away, such as across the street, but no farther without being required to call up a babysitter.
Troy eventually gets a bit older and is ready to age up. The Schultzes still want to expand their social network as well, so they're going to kill two birds with one stone: it's time for a party!
Parties are paragons of chaos, just because so many people can become involved. If you plan accordingly, it can be organized chaos at least. At minimum, you better have plenty of food around, as well as a decent-sized bathroom to accommodate several guests having the urge at once. Also advised is the $300 buffet table, which allows you to essentially create food instantly, sparing your Sims from having to cook. Bars are useful also for adult parties, allowing the guests to loosen up and possibly have more fun.
Seth and Holly have none of these, of course, but they're going to give a party a shot anyway. Once day breaks, they buy a birthday cake in Buy Mode and place it on the kitchen counter. Then, Seth goes to the phone and uses the Throw Party command. He could also use the Throw Party At... command, which would have the party off-site. That's a good option for larger parties if your house is small, though it's not necessary right now.
Once Seth uses the Throw Party command, the Party Planner menu pops up. First, you select the type of party you're going to have. "House Party" is the default, standard type. In this case, Seth is choosing birthday party. Note that the party type dropdown box is contextual, so if no one on your lot can have a birthday party, the option won't even be there.
Just below the party type selection is the party start time, which you can type in. Some people don't like having parties in the middle of the night, so you'll need to keep that in mind. Below that is the dress code, in case you have a specific idea in mind. Wedding parties or parties in fancy-pants houses probably should be formal attire, whereas parties held at pools or ocean lots should be swimwear. Seth chooses a 12-noon start time and casual attire for this one.
The next part of the party planning menu is the possible guests you can invite. Whoever is making the call can invite whoever they want, provided someone in the house knows them. Guests are not guaranteed to show up, however. In fact, they will often refuse to show up if they don't like any of the hosts. Seth invites all his fellow soldiers, who are all considered friends to him. (Thank goodness for the Hang Out with Soldiers work strategy!) Seth is also going to try inviting his boss, Erin, but it's very doubtful she'll show up. Can't hurt to try though.
Just to clarify one thing about guests: the guest's decision whether to attend the party is based on their highest relationship with a member of the hosting family. So in this case, Seth is inviting Molly French to the party. In previous Sims games, Molly would likely refuse because she and Seth barely know each other. However, because Molly is friends with Holly, Molly will probably show up anyway even though Seth is making the party. In this way, it doesn't matter who in the family actually plans the party: invite everyone's friends, and they should all show up!
Seth and Holly use the few hours they have before the party starts to tidy up the house. Seth is planning on ordering a pizza to save Holly time and effort with cooking, but they still have breakfast and feed the baby.
At 11:00am, the first guests show up. Huh, I guess guests show up an hour early now, that's cool. Well, only a few do: Erin surprisingly does show up, along with another of his fellow soldiers. By noon, all the guests have shown up, many of them bringing food for the whole party! Excellent!
Eventually, it's time to do the candles thing. Holly puts the cake on the table, then selects it and uses the Blow Candles command. Up pops a list of every Sim that's on the lot, and you can choose anyone to age up, regardless of how close they are to actually doing so. Note that this allows you to age up Sims even if you've disabled aging in the options menu.
Holly selects Troy to blow out the candles, leading to a special animation, and Troy gets a little older! The rest of the party goes swimmingly, and it starts to break up about three hours after it got started. It would have gone longer if the guests had had a better time, but a crying stinky toddler kinda ruined things. Still, as the guests leave, they tell Seth and Holly that they had a good time, so that's a win in my book.
Once they all leave, Seth is given a little grade on the party. Turns out this one was rated a "modest success," which frankly is pretty much as good as they could have gotten considering how little they had for their guests. With a bit more work on their objects, they could easily be the life of the neighborhood!
While not precisely a requirement, Holly calls up work and quits her job at this point. Toddlers require a bit more attention, and Holly was never intended to work for her whole life anyway.
Without a job, Holly has also given up on looking hot. She goes to the dresser in the bedroom and uses the Plan Outfit command. This basically takes you back to a limited version of the Create-A-Sim screen. When you go to your tabs of all the different outfits, you can click the + button below each outfit to add a new one. In this way, Holly gives herself a second everyday outfit: one with a ratty T-shirt, sweat pants that are at least her favorite color, and a pair of those crappy slip-on sneakers that you usually get for 2 bucks at Wal-Mart. Oh, and she takes off her earrings: we don't want Troy hanging from them, do we? Then, she goes to the mirror, uses the Change Appearance command, and removes her makeup. She just doesn't have time to put it on anymore!
Toddlers need to learn three basic skills: walking, talking, and using the toilet. Seth buys a potty seat in Buy Mode and places it next to the adult toilet, and buys a little peg toy for Troy as well. Over the next couple weeks, Seth and Holly will constantly use the Teach To Walk and Teach To Talk commands to Troy, and will use the potty seat anytime Troy's Bladder meter is low. Note that Seth and Holly can still train up Troy's potty training even if Troy's Bladder meter is absolutely full: if you've got nothing better to do, go ahead and train him.
Unlike previous games, this process doesn't take all year to do. For vets of The Sims 2, the speed here is equivalent of a baby under the effects of Smart Milk being taught by an adult wearing the Thinking Cap: it takes roughly a half-day usually for a toddler to learn any one skill, so you can theoretically do all three in under a couple days, though it will more than likely take you three. Because Seth and Holly are Family-Oriented though, they are able teach Troy in half the time!
After Troy has all those basic skills, there's really nothing for him to do other than gain conventional skills. He can use his peg toy or the little oven to gain points in using the toys, for example. All the toys also give some fun, so the child (with some effort) can quickly gain some decent skills in preparation for his later life. Note that any skills he learns won't show up on his Skills Panel for now, but they will manifest once he ages up again. All toy skills can go up to level 3, at which point you'll get an alert in the corner.
When Troy ages up in this case, I forced him to because I was bored of waiting I get an alert that due to Seth and Holly's awesome parenting skills, he gets a third trait! Had I just sat on my hands and let him age up without learning how to walk and talk, he would have still gotten a trait, but it would have been assigned at random. I gave Troy the Hot-Headed trait... I guess he's a frustrated genius! Troy also gets to start using wishes and promises, although that's a feature of being a child rather than any effect of Seth and Holly's parenting skills.
The first thing Holly does when Troy ages up is buy him a bed, a lamp, and a couple accessories for the second bedroom. Troy is too old for the crib at this point, though she keeps it and the rest of the children's toys, as she and Seth will soon start the process of having another child.
As far as Troy goes, he now has to attend school on weekdays. A bus will arrive in the morning to ferry him off, and he is able to choose a strategy while there, just like Seth can do at work. Troy chooses to Meet New Friends to help out his social meter for the first day, and will Talk To Friends for the others.
Troy will bring back homework every day. His homework is in his inventory, and he can give the Do Homework command from there. Homework is stressful for all Sims, even Troy with the Genius trait, so he asks for homework help from the newly pregnant Holly. If Troy doesn't do the homework at all, his grade (which Seth and Holly can see on the Career Panel) will start to fall.
Troy gets a break from school on the weekends, just like real-life. However, Sunset Valley has a curfew in effect, so Troy can't be out running around after 10pm. If he is, he automatically comes back home, and will presently cancel any orders to the contrary. Part of me wishes that the children could cause some mayhem late at night, but hey: at least this means they're nice and safe.
Depending on your trait choices, children can start thinking about the future as well. If the combination of traits is a certain way, you might see a Lifetime Wish appear as a wish option. Unlike standard wishes however, if I promise this, I have no way of changing it unless I buy the rather expensive Change Lifetime Wish superpower. The game gives me a confirmation dialogue here, just to make sure.
Troy doesn't see his until he's a teenager, which I'll get into in a second. He gets the possible wish to become Super Popular that is, be friends with 20 Sims simultaneously. Troy isn't yet sure what he wants out of life, like most teenagers, so he doesn't commit just yet.
Troy presently ages up one more time. When children age up, his friends from school tend to age up with him automatically. This allows Troy to keep friends for his entire life, and it makes neighbors a bit more dynamic as a result.
Due to his success in school, Troy has earned a fourth trait. He's become Ambitious, and dresses in non-conformist clothes in an ironically conformist way to other non-conformists!
Teens have to go to school just like children do, but teens can also take part-time jobs just like adults. They cannot get full-time jobs, and low grades may lead them to being fired, so you'll have to maintain the balance of work and study in order to do both.
Troy still has a curfew as before, though it's an hour later: he can stay out until 11pm. He's also now able to break it, giving him a low-caliber buff while he's out past 11. However, this comes with a price: the cops patrol the streets looking for kids who break curfew, and will drag him back home if they find him. Once there, he gets lectured by Seth, replacing the Breaking Curfew buff with a Got Caught! debuff.
The skills Troy learned as a toddler start coming to fruition here as well. Remember that he managed to achieve Level 3 on the xylophone? This means the instant he does any music-related action, such as reading a book for the Guitar skill or actually using a guitar, his Guitar skill will immediately hit level 3. It's a great start to succeeding in school, or it helps them gain an early edge for jobs.
Because of this, it should be obvious that raising a Sim from childhood speeds development compared to starting with a young adult or adult Sim. Generation-2 Sims that are raised correctly in fact have such an advantage that you will probably see more success and rewards from them than their parents. Holly is pretty jealous, although Seth just flexes in the mirror to remember how awesome he is.
Time passes by, and Troy levels up to being a young adult. He gains another Trait, and he must now choose one of five possible lifetime wishes. He leaves school, and otherwise his next actions are up to him. He could stay in this house, or he could move out.
With his parents getting it on and a total of five other kids invading the house, Troy decides it's in his best interested to get out of Dodge as soon as possible. There are two ways he could leave. The first is to go to the neighborhood screen, select the family, and press the Split Household button. You then select which family members are moving out, as well as seeing how much money they get. Now, this money appears out of thin air. If the original family has $100,000, and you move out one adult, the original family will still have $100,000, and the adult gets $16,000 simply because that's how much they're worth as a "new" family.
The second way to split a family is a bit more complex. First, the family in question has to be the active family. In this case, of course, it's the Schultzes. Troy goes to the computer (or he could use the newspaper), and selects the Move command. He then gets to select which family members, if any, move out with him, as before.
The thing is, they have to draw any money they move with from the family funds. Let's pretend the Schultzes are worth $100,000. Let's further pretend that Troy decides to move into a different house worth $35,000. Seth and Holly will give up the cash, dropping their family funds to $65,000. This works with empty lots top: if Troy wants to move into an empty lot worth a mere $1,200, then the Schultzes' family funds will be $98,800.
Now, there is an additional possible step here. If I hit the checkbox marked "Make Active Household," then I'll control Troy when the move happens, and I'll receive all money from the original family funds. So if I move Troy into the first house worth $35,000 remember and make him the new active family, then Seth and Holly will drop down to $0, and Troy will move in with a reserve total of $65,000. If I move Troy into the empty lot and make him active, he'll move there with a reserve total of $98,800.
If neither of these options are acceptable that is, if you want to keep all your family funds you can get around some of the game's limitations by selecting the "Kick Out" option at the bottom. If Seth and Holly did that, Troy would leave the house and go to a random lot, whether he could technically afford it or not. Seth and Holly do this, and Troy winds up moving next door, ironically.
Later children of the Schultzes however wind up across town in large mansions, however, due to the random nature of the Kick Out command. It's still a challenge for them, if they can't afford their bills, but if they're not the active family, it doesn't much matter. As it is, Troy moves across the lawn, and I don't switch the active family; ergo, Troy lives out his life as normal, will age as normal, might get married and have kids due to the Story Progression option on, and otherwise can be a friend of the family.
Holly is a couple Sim days older than Seth, though in short order, they both age up. Elders act just like adults, with a few exceptions. Holly loses the ability to reproduce, but Seth still can... not that he will, of course, since Seth is definitely loyal unlike a certain tool maid from a certain previous Sims universe. (Kelly National is still arguing with him in the Sim Afterlife.)
As elders, both Seth and Holly suffer stronger decays to their Energy meters, and they're more easily susceptible to getting fat. Right off the bat, actually, both slouch a bit and take a slight hit to their bodies; Holly especially is the victim of gravity.
Elders who hold jobs can also retire from their jobs, drawing a pension. They can continue to keep working, but the aforementioned severe attrition penalty to the Energy meter may make it tough., Seth has been an astronaut for quite awhile, and though he only works one day a week, his shift is from 7am to 1am that's an 18-hour shift! Even in his younger, adult-stage years, that killed his Energy meter! And now, even when slacking off as a job strategy, he takes so much stress that it takes him days to recover. Seth simply wants to relax now; going to the moon is a young Sim's game.
Seth (and it has to be Seth, as Holly can't do this for him) goes to the phone and selects the Retire command. After confirming it, Seth no longer has to go to work, and gets a daily pension, which is nice since the household was used to his weekly astronaut paychecks. Like a real pension, it's not a whole lot, and Seth wouldn't be able to support Holly and three kids (the other three have moved out by now) while trying to expand the house, but it's more than enough for mere survival. Pensions are based on how much he was earning in the first place, so while he could have retired from any level of any job, he makes a large pension because he retired from the final level of the Military career track.
It's a sad day in all Sims' lives when they lose a loved one. Seth suffers the heartbreak that has come from Holly passing away first. The grim reaper comes by and, as Seth looks on with eyes full of tears, Holly is drawn into an urn. All of her inventory items transfer to Seth because, of all the Sims remaining on the lot, he has the highest relationship score with her. That's the only transfer of items or money, though; unlike previous games, no one gets paid out any insurance money.
Once the death process is complete, Death sometimes hangs out around the house for no real reason. This time, he opts to leave immediately, which is just fine to the grieving Seth. He uses the urn and pulls up a pie menu, writing an epitaph for Holly and mourning her. He can also pick up the urn and take it to the cemetery, giving her a nice burial instead, but he opts to just move the urn to the desk in the bedroom.
While that keeps Holly close, though, that may keep her a bit too close. Holly now has a chance of reappearing as a ghost after 11pm now and then. She scares the bejeezus out of most Sims (those with the Daredevil or Evil trait are immune), but she doesn't actually do anything bad. She'll randomly do actions around the house, though she might wake up one of the other Sims and wind up and ruin their otherwise good night's sleep. Beyond though, any haunting she does is not even remotely destructive.
Days pass, and Seth passes away too. This upsets both sisters, but Fiona especially takes it hard as she doesn't have Shannon's ability to swipe stuff to grieve. Shortly after Seth's death, Fiona gets a call... the science lab down the street has an offer. It seems that death, regardless of reason, is not a permanent state here in Sunset Valley.
Fiona picks up both of her parents' urns and heads on over to the science lab. She's given the option which one to resurrect, and she chooses Seth first. The machine doesn't quite function as she was hoping, but Seth is indeed resurrected... just as a playable ghost! Ghosts who are resurrected remain ghosts by appearance, but they are fully playable like any other Sim. They can have jobs, make money, go shopping, have romances, and make babies. Yes, make babies... and a ghost parent has a chance of making a ghost baby offspring. Scary, huh?
Now that the machine is unlocked at the science lab, the Schultzes can take anyone's remains over there to get resurrected... but it will cost $5000 from now on. The Schultzes have over $15,000 in reserve at this point due in most part to Shannon's efforts to steal everything that isn't nailed down, so Fiona goes ahead and pays the fee. Seth and Holly reunite, and the household is four-strong once more!
Seth and Holly retain everything they had from before, including any fulfilled wishes, Lifetime Happiness Points, superpowers, traits, and skills. However, they lose any job they held, so Seth is no longer a retired astronaut. He gets bored, and he's already been in the military field, so he decides to just stay home and garden. Meanwhile, Holly, retaining all her writing skills, will get a job in the journalism career track. Hey, if you can walk through walls, you can get some great exclusive interviews, huh?
Ghosts will age as normal, although resurrected ghosts can return to their afterlife at anytime using the gravestone in their inventories. Think of it as an instant one-way bus ticket back to where they belong!