January 2012

Increasing Your Sim Social Home's Value

In order to unlock the ability to buy garden plots, your home has to get to level 50, with a home value of $1,020,000.
There are two good reason to focus on the value of your home in the Sims Social Facebook game:
1. It's what your friends see
Let's be honest, Sims Social is a competitive game, too. The one-upsmanship is definitely a part of the appeal. That being said, the figure your friends see beside your icon at the bottom of their screen is your home value. Not your total value.

The Sims Social: Is It Really A Game?

Or is it just "clicking on a bunch of stuff"?
My recent bout of playing The Sims Social is also my first experience playing a Facebook game. I had always resisted them in the past as being "not so much a game, as clicking on a bunch of stuff." And having played Sims Social somewhat intensively for the last few weeks… I think I still kinda believe that.
What makes a game a game? I would say that "strategy" is one element. I also think that "the potential for failure" is another element. Competitive play is another possible component, although not strictly necessary. (There are plenty of games, both real-world and video games, which are single-player. Tetris, Zork, and Solitaire all come to mind.)

Sims Social: What Is XP Good For?

You keep leveling up... but why?
As I played (I'm still playing… even though I don't quite know why…) I started wondering what was the point of XP. It's listed at the top of the screen, along with the other currencies, but you don't seem to be able to spend it. What's the deal?
Almost every useful action (i.e. actions requiring an Energy point) will earn you XP. Most actions (including watering a plant, rummaging through the trash, or painting something) earn 10 XP. The symbol for XP is a blue star, and XP is tracked in the top right-hand corner of your main screen.

The Sims Social Cowplant

And its philosophical implications for the game as a whole


Over the weekend, I have to admit it, I lost my head a little. I gave actual cash to The Sims Social Facebook game. I know, right? I have no defense for this. I hang my head in shame. 
What tempted me? In a word: Cowplant!
The Cowplant is probably one of the most famous fixture of the Sims games. Originally introduced as a career reward in The Sims 2, the Cowplant has also returned to  The Sims 3 - and now, to Sims Social, as well.

Sims Social: Energy Point Strategy

If you have the free time, you can max out your free Energy points by checking in on the game every 75 minutes.


Playing the Sims Social Facebook game can be a very frustrating experience, because there are five or six different limitations that you have to work around. One of the most basic currencies is Energy points, which you have to expend any time you want to do anything interesting. 
In this context, "interesting" means "will earn you something more than a green smiley." This includes social interactions (where you can earn Social points and crafting ingredients like Fury or Goodwill) and physical actions like clearing weeds, painting, gardening, and so forth. 

Sims Social Gardening

Don't forget to set yourself a calendar reminder!
The obvious way to make money in Sims Social is to start gardening. Each property comes with four garden plots. (You can buy more when you have enough money and are at a high enough level. They cost $1,000 apiece, and are unlocked when "Maximum Reached." I don't actually know what that means. Maximum gardening skill, I guess?) 
Click on the plot and you have the option of planting any of a number of harvestables, from strawberries to grapes. Each one takes a different amount of time until it is ready to be harvested. The longer it takes until it's ready for harvest, the more money you earn for harvesting it.

The Sims Social: Energy Points

Remember how yesterday I mentioned that planting, watering, and harvesting takes a separate action for each plot? Yep: now you can see the sense of it


I know what you're wondering. You're wondering, "How great is it that you can play this Sims game for free?" Pretty great! For a little while. Then you run out of energy points, and EA's diabolical plan is revealed to you.
Not all actions require an energy point. Just the interesting ones, and the ones that have benefit. When you click on something to bring up the actions menu, the actions requiring an energy point will have a little cartoon lightning bolt icon in the corner. Luckily, this makes it easy to budget your energy points if you need to. However, it also makes it obvious how crippled your gameplay will be, once you run out of energy points.

The Sims Social: Actual Game Play

Shiny and confusing, kinda like a Vegas slot machine
Many things turn out to be similar between The Sims 3 and The Sims Social. But it sure doesn't seem that way at first. 
One problem I had was that the game starts by shunting you through a non-consensual tutorial. When it tells you to click on something and do the thing, you have to click on that something and do that thing. I would have been a lot happier and less frazzled if the game had just let me kick back, watch my Sim do her thing, and get a feel for the world first.

The Sims Social: First Impressions

My first play experiences can be summed up by, "WHAAAAAAT IS HAPPENINGGGGGG???"
The Sims has been available as a Facebook game for quite some time, but it has received precious little attention in the Sims online-ish communities. This is no doubt partly due to the laws of physics (at any given time I can either play Sims 3 or Sims Social, but not both) and I think partly due to outright snobbery.
I should know, because frankly, I was pretty snobbish about it for a long time. It was just a Facebook game, how good could it be? I envisioned it as a Sims-skinned version of Cow Clicker. I had heard about the iPhone game, which by all accounts is ridiculously awful, and I assumed it was similar.

Sims 3 Genetics

90% inherited from the parents or maybe the grandparents... plus 10% random!

I recently attempted a challenge that leverages the Sims 3 "roll the dice" feature of genetic inheritance. In this challenge you start by creating a Sim with a custom hair color and custom eye color. Ideally something fun and unusual. (I chose turquoise hair and salmon-y orange eyes). Then you keep having kids with another Sim until you get a kid with the same hair and eye color, and that is your heir.
All well and good, right? But my Sims had TWENTY KIDS and NOT ONE OF THEM had the right combination of hair and eye color. Maddening!