March 2012

SimCity Reboot

The big controversy surrounding the new SimCity is the "always on" DRM requirements.


EA/Maxis has announced that it is planning a reboot of the SimCity franchise, due to be released in 2013. The original SimCity debuted 24 years ago, and bears little resemblance to the most current iteration, SimCity 4 (released in 2003). 
I'll be honest with you, I have watched all the trailers and videos, and I'm not seeing anything that seems substantially different (from a player's perspective) from SimCity 4. The biggest difference is that the animations will be "smart," in the sense that it's not just the standard looping sprite; what you see is what you get. If a coal plant has piles of coal building up, that means that it's working. Little Sims will show up and take the coal away and redistribute it, in real time. And so forth.

The Dragon Tower Challenge

+$100k house value makes this quest worthwhile!


This week the Sims Social Facebook game released a new skill item with some pretty big promises. As with a lot of other quest chain items, you can get the Dragon Tower initial object for free. Click the Shop tab in your game, and it should be listed at the very beginning along with the other special highlighted items.
When you place this item in your game, it will look unpromising to say the least! Like a big pile of weeds. But as you work at it, a dragon is slowly revealed. Eventually you will have completed the quest and the tower, and your reward will be four things:

The Sims Social: Nerfing Items

It's frustrating... but remember, it's just a game (right?)


Over the last few weeks, Playfish (the producer of the Sims Social Facebook game) has really rubbed some players the wrong way by "nerfing" various items.
"Nerfing" is a gaming term that means "adjusting an item to make it less powerful." The metaphor is of swapping a player's sword or gun with a Nerf version instead. Bonk! 
I ended up on the wrong side of some nerfing with the cylindrical aquarium that was the special reward if you finished the quest chain regarding the Vespertine bar. Players spent an entire week frantically trying to scrounge up enough lemon slices to pass all of the hurdles with the bar (which involved learning how to make a series of more difficult drinks).

The Sims 3 Genie

I dream of Genie with the dark blue skin...


Every expansion pack (so far) has introduced a different life state, and the Showtime expansion pack is no different. Showtime brings back the Genie, who was a feature in The Sims and The Sims 2. But this time, the genie can become a fully playable character!


In order to get the genie, first you need the Dusty Old Lamp. You have a chance to find the lamp each time you explore the catacombs in the graveyard, if you give a stage performance which is rated “legendary,” and by exploring a dimensional gate with the big gyroscope toy.


Or you can just buy the lamp with 30,000 Lifetime Happiness Points.

Sims Social: Careers

Basically a dressed-up version of the gardening system
The big news in the Sims-o-sphere this week is the release of Careers to the Sims Social Facebook game. This is the game's first real gameplay update since it was originally launched last August. Exciting stuff!
There are currently three careers (with the possibility of more to come): Cooking, Singing, and Painting. Your Sim can change careers at any time, although there is a penalty, and you have to start off lower on your new career ladder. 

Sims 3 Showtime: Singer Profession

Is "singing telegram" a trademarked phrase? Or did they just think players are too young to know what a "telegram" was?
One of the few disappointments I have with the Showtime expansion pack so far is that your Sim  can't become a singer and then be added to a band from Night Life. I mean, doesn't that make sense? You've got a guitarist, a drummer, a keyboardist, maybe even a piano player… but no singer. Meanwhile with the Showtime pack, you have a singer who performs solo. Is it just me, or is this a situation crying out for an obvious solution?
At any rate, "Singer" is a Profession, which means that you pursue it on your own time (much like Architect or Ghost Hunter). You advance in the profession by playing gigs, singing for tips in public, and delivering "Sing-A-Grams." (Is "singing telegram" a trademarked phrase? Or did they just think players are too young to know what a "telegram" was?)

Hosting A Friend's Sim With SimPort

For those who were hoping to socialize with other people's Sims… not happening, sorry!
SimPort is odd and new enough that I recommend starting with the Lessons. You know… that informational help system that you turned off about five minutes after first installing the game! 
You can access Lessons from the "…" menu button in the main game. It can actually be surprisingly helpful to browse Lessons for other bits of the game you might have missed. (This is where, among other things, I learned that cats can be trained to hunt things.)
Hosting a friend's Sim is a simple matter itself, but it relies on a long chain of events happening beforehand. 

Sims 3 Showtime: First Impressions

In a nutshell: WOW!
This actually seems like a pretty substantial upgrade to the game, from the crisper graphics on the loading scene to the online/social component. Showtime doesn't just add new functionality or gameplay, it fundamentally changes the way the game is played.
Even if you don't install Showtime, once you run the latest update, you will have the online/social bits by default. If you don't like these, you can turn them off. I know many of you carry a lot of emotional baggage from the Sims Online fiasco. (I myself was selected to beta test it… I spent about five minutes playing it before I logged out and dropped out of the test.)

Don't Send Your Sims Social Pals $1,000!

One case where you shouldn't blindly click "Accept"
I recently became aware of an odd thing that Playfish is doing, apparently to entice old players back into the game. 
This little trick seems to be designed to take advantage of people like me, who always have a ton of requests. Whenever I fire up the game I usually have at least a dozen requests and notices from other friends - sending back 10 Simoleons, asking for more Fury, sending me the Cocktail Umbrella I asked for, and so forth. It's gotten to the point that when I click to start the game, on the messages screen I just click OK OK OK OK without even really looking.
Which is how I almost lost $1,000 to a Sims Social friend who hasn't played the game in months!

Sims Social: Energy Management Strategy

Manage it wisely to reap the greatest rewards
Energy is one of the most important commodities in the Sims Social Facebook game. Particularly if you are trying to level up or follow a quest chain. You want to get the most bang for your buck, energy wise!
1. Use your friends!
Every time you visit a friend's house, you get five bonus energy points, which you can only spend on their property. However, after you use all five points, you get one bonus energy point that goes to your regular total (meaning, you can take it home with you and use it there).
(Note: this bonus is only unlocked once per day.)

Sims Social Vespertine Cocktail Bar Challenge

This is a tough one, but it's worth it!
When you play the Sims Social game on Facebook, you are constantly being barraged with the game's prompts to start various quest chains. But in the case of the Vespertine Cocktail Bar, you really should give this one a shot! 
If you finish the entire quest chain, you get a cylindrical fish tank. Pretty, and a nice item of 1980s décor, right? But get this: every hour the fishtank drops stuff - energy points, random Crafting ingredients, Social points, and more! If there was ever a quest to undertake, it's this one!