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"Where'd Everybody Go?" - Story Progression in Sims 3

One of the huge changes between Sims 3 and Sims 2 was the introduction of Story Progression.  You probably noticed this first when one of your child Sims' childhood friends grew up, too.  Or when one of your adult Sims' friends grew old and died!  Or if you switch playable families then come back to your first family only to find there have been pregnancies, marriages, deaths - the usual trials of life.

In Sims 2, time stopped for everyone outside the family you were playing.  If you always played the same household (as I did), this created a weird scenario where generations of your Sims would be born, grow up, grow old, and die - all while the neighbors and family friends remained unchanged.   

One side effect of this was memorizing and learning to love your NPCs.  It was always nice to see a new generation of Sims get purse-whipped by Mrs. Crumplebottom!  Another side effect is that you could literally kill off every other Sim in town, leaving your own Sims to repopulate the entire neighborhood.  (Several challenges revolved around this scenario, including Last Sim Standing and various Apocalypse challenges.)
Time flows for everyone in Sims 3, assuming you have Story Progression on.  (By the way you can turn it off in your Options menu, if you want to.)  Every Sim in town will go through a series of life changes and eventually die.  New Sims will move in; other families will move out.  

The game seeks to keep a balance of NPC Sims, so that your town never gets too empty or too crowded.  If you have your Sim read the daily newspaper, you will learn about the basic actions that have taken place in the name of Story Progression.  The newspaper tells you which families have moved into town, and which have moved out.  It also covers births, marriages, and deaths.

I don't often think of Story Progression, but I ran into it the other night.  I went looking for the Baker family, to see what had happened to them in my game.  I have played Twinbrook for 16 weeks of in-game time.  (You can see how much time you've played that family by hovering your mouse over the clock readout.)  I wondered if they had moved past the stereotypes they represented, or what.

Alas, I found that their house at 23 Puddlewick Drive was empty.  Searching in Edit Town mode, I learned that there were no Bakers in my town of Twinbrook.  So long, guys!  I guess they all moved out, or possibly died.  It's hard to say - I really wish you could research this kind of thing in-game, maybe at the library or at City Hall.

Story Progression can do some funny things, too.  I know a player who downloaded a family of Sims based off characters from the new Battlestar Galactica.  She added to the game as non-playable neighbors of her main family, so that she could keep an eye on them.  A few weeks later she reported that Starbuck was pregnant with Bill Adama's baby, and Tigh had married Laura Roslin!


Gwen M's picture

Gwen M

I'm new to the sims, and have discovered story progression inadvertantley. I downloaded a new world and it had no people. It was a gost town. So I decided to change active households and create new sims.  When one day I was at the bookstore and saw my first family pregnant,and the little girl they had was now a young adult. I went back to their house and discovered the parents had differnt jobs.  I wanted the mother to be a stay at home mom.  The dad was visiting another woman's house late at night. The day I got back the mom had twin girls.  Is there a manuel on how to p;ay sim3 and what to expect.  I'm learning how by trial and error.

Sorry to laugh, but that's pretty funny! They never manage to do what we want them to do, do they?! (I love that the dad was stepping out at night... what a sneaky weasel!)

sophie's picture


well on my story its quite funny because judy bunch had a baby and judy died! while the kid was only a baby. poor baby

Dee's picture


I agree there needs to be a guide on how to play Sims 3.  I love reading about your family.  I like the fact that the dad was stepping out.  I know how you feel though.  I just started adding families to my game and I wanted one of my teens to date another teen.  When I went back to her household after making the male in CAS she was already dating and refuse to even talk to the guy I made.  Getting her to break up with her new boyfriend was almost impossible to do.  I like the story progression though.  It's sometimes hilarious to see what the Sims are getting themselves into.  On the other hand I hate it when I make a plan for one of my Sims and they moved on to do what they wanted to do.

Sakura's picture


I...I am planning to make my sims marry Malcom Harris... for me, he is PERFECT... grumpy and all emo-like and all...
and the next few days I found out... he...move away and in my relationship book I am still in a relationship with him :(
I just found out about the story progression now...
would you like to excuse me, I wanna weep for a bit >.<

That is sad - and a bummer! The only thing I can think of is to move your Sims into a new copy of Moonlight Falls.

First, go to Edit Town and save a copy of your active family. Then go back to the main menu and start a new game in Moonlight Falls (I believe you click a + button to create a new one). Go to Edit Town, grab your family, and place them in the town. 

Voila: you basically start back at the beginning, "Groundhog Day" style!