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June 2009
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The Sims 3, Part 2: Good News, Bad News

Since my earlier post about The Sims 3, in which I was impressed at how long it was taking me to find bugs, I have found a few.  Most of them are pretty minor and slightly inconvenient.  But now I’ve hit an actual show-stopper.  More on that later.

Sims 3 is also continuing to impress me.  Its gardening is smoother than Sims 2’s.  The painting is more interesting.  Heck, all the skills are just better-done.  I’m especially loving mechanical upgrades and how an expert mechanic can just keep things from ever getting dirty or breaking.

Among the biggest (and most awesome) surprises for me have been the career changes.  Whereas in the previous Sims games every job was just “work these hours, these days, make this money”, Sims 3 has really broken the mold.

I’ll be making use of spoiler tags in this article, for those who like to discover things on their own.

After I couldn’t find directions online for how to get a ghost Sim into my family, I figured it out on my own.  But first, I had to starve my Evil Overlord sim to death.  He should have seen it coming; his son is evil, too.  I didn’t realize that people who starve to death ended up as pink ghosts, but really this is just divine justice for how evil he is.  Dude steals candy from babies.

show spoilers

So that part was cool.

The Big Bad Bug I hit was much less cool.  It’s only by luck that I’d only been playing for 30 minutes (I’m not a frequent-saver), because I had to reload my game.  I had a sim – Darlene – teaching her toddler to talk.  When they finished up, the action didn’t end and they didn’t stand up.  I tried to cancel the action, but they sat there, motionless, with an X over the action in the queue.  I hoped they’d get up when they got hungry.  A day passed.  Their moods were red, their moodlets furious, and still they sat.  I tried doing a save-as (an AMAZING new feature) and reloading that.  Nothing.  In the end, I had to reload the game.  The bug did not occur a second time.  But I lost 30 minutes of gameplay.

Still, bugs take away very little from the game.  And honestly, with a new game you should really save often.  You’d think I’d know that by now.

So far I’ve tried out a couple of career paths and have found two things that are definitely worth noting:

1. Rock Stars don’t have set work hours.  This is amazing to me.  Instead of working on a schedule for the same mediocre pay as every other job, as was the case in The Sims 2, you gain the ability to make money by playing concerts at the theatre or stadium.  You can also hold autograph sessions and get paid for publicity.  My only complaint?  You can’t watch when your sim is playing a concert.

2. It looks like it’s viable to work from home.  My Rock Star sim’s wife is a homemaker who likes to cook, garden and paint.  You can make legitimate money on these things because, as with all the skills in Sims 3, practice reduces the time it takes to finish, and improves the quality.

The last thing I want to mention today is that the AI in this game is markedly improved over previous entries in the series.  I left two family members alone while I saved up money to move them out (they don’t appear to give you 20,000 simoleans for free when you move out any more).  They do just fine on their own.  They work on skills, entertain themselves, sleep, and even manage to pee in the right place.

AI design doesn’t seem like it should have to be rocket science – and that’s a whole article in itself – but it’s nice to see it done right.  Now… if the sims would just path around each other instead of stopping and tapping their feet.  Or is that a real-life feature, like when you try to dodge someone in the hallway at work and he dodges the same direction?

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