Just one… more… turn…!

Most of one week down since the purchase, and so far the score is a resounding Sims 1, Ysharros & household 0 — and that includes a couple of false starts, like the DVD not running in my machine’s drive. For once it’s not the DVD’s fault: my drive is almost 9 years old and, to put it kindly, is somewhat temperamental as to what discs it is actually willing to read these days. However, it plays just fine on Mort’s machine.

I was expecting to be interested for a while and entertained for a day or two. I was also expecting to find that the whole Sims experience became too much like a micro-managing chore after a while, which is how Sim City usually ended up being for me. Part of that is my fault — I have some control-freak tendencies — but part of that is the nature of any game with a zillion different pieces and things going on, any one of which could foul things up big time if you don’t keep a constant eye on them. Admittedly, this is getting better as the underlying AI of these sim games improves.

Anyway, I expected The Sims 3 to be more of the same except I’d be dealing with people instead of housing zones or transportation networks. Wrong!

Yes, the Sims 3 is engrossing. Yes, it’s much more complex and broad and layered than I expected. And yes, it’s rather addictive. There’s been a little micro-management but that’s really only because we wanted to: one can give one’s various Sims a greater or lesser degree of personal decision-making freedom and if you’re not telling them what to do, they’ll decide for themselves.

Feeling bad about nicking Mort’s computer, which to me is always rather like asking to borrow someone’s small clothes, I asked if he wanted to run a Sim together, and to my not-quite-surprise he acquiesced. Having a gamer partner is a great thing and besides, he likes borrowing my machine as little as I like borrowing his. (Especially for MMOs — we don’t have the same client / UI setups for MMOs, I have a different mouse, etc etc. And, ultimately, it just doesn’t feel quite right.)

Thus was born Herb Parsley. Guess what he does! Yep, he was born to cook. We made him ambitious, a perfectionist, a natural cook with a green thumb, and friendly to boot. (Full Sims 3 trait list here.)

As has been reported elsewhere, there are lots of things to do in the Sims and one of them is finding seeds which you can then plant and tend. What hasn’t been reported elsewhere is how insanely addictive some of these mini-games can become.

Anyway, the first thing we did with Herb was spend most of his money on a pretty seaside lot and a decent sized but mostly-empty house on said lot. Such furnishings as we could afford by the time the house was built were definitely substandard, but Herb figured he could upgrade those as he went. After that the first “real” thing Herb did was to attend a grilling contest down at the local beach social spot, which happened to be on the very afternoon he arrived in town. All he knew how to make were hotdogs, but what heavenly hotdogs they were! He won, of course, and his culinary career began.

Herbs-first-cookout-contest

A night or two later, right after we’d bought a couple more things for Herb’s house, he was burgled! (And after saying “That never happened to Calliope!” about a million times, I realised how handy my solo-Sim’s “lucky” trait must be.) Fortunately, he called the police at the first stealthy creaks on the porch outside and the evil criminal was not only apprehended, but relieved of our phat lewt, which was eventually returned to us. Getting robbed wasn’t fun for Herb, but watching the neighbours come over to rubberneck and say nasty things to the thief was amusing for us players. The sheer quantity of “little things” in this game is amazing — people sneeze, burp, watch other people get up to stuff, gossip, say the wrong thing, or scratch themselves when they think no-one is looking. Brilliant stuff; I can’t wait to have a better computer so we can run this game at a higher rez more smoothly.

getting-robbed

Having had our night’s sleep so rudely interrupted (and sleep matters a lot in this game), we decided to go fishing. We didn’t catch much, but it sure was restful.

gone-fishin

The job we got at the local bistro wore Herb out for a while, until we realised that in some jobs, you can take it easy and actually do well! We also found out how important it can be to schmooze with your co-workers — especially after you get a big, fat promotion and raise and they don’t. They didn’t like Herb much there for a while.

As it turned out, the job was almost like a vacation. By then, we had discovered gardening. Man, it takes a lot of time, even when one has a green thumb. It’s easy to let it get out of hand, especially if you’re a perfectionist like Herb (which means most activities take him longer, though he ends up doing them better than most other people) and especially if you’re a pack-rat like the players playing Herb.

herb-garden

Juggling the needs of the ever-increasing garden with the need to not show up stinky to work and the need to actually show up at work and get promoted… yikes. Herb doesn’t have time for much of a social life, that’s for sure. However, he’s poised on level 9 of 10 of his culinary career — he’s already an Executive Chef and he hasn’t even hit his 30s yet. He is, however, pretty close to burnout most of the time — he gets to sleep as soon as the work shift is over, usually around 9 or 10 in the evening, and he’s up before 5, ready to tend the plants and harvest the produce.

Good thing he can talk to his plants for company — which, among other things, got him to Gardening 10 in no time flat. He’s already grown one perfect apple tree and is constantly on the lookout for more seeds to widen his knowledge of plants. (Meaning, we’ve only planted about half the plants that can be found in game, and we’re not sure where to find the rarer ones. We’re not going to look it up, however — it’ll be fun to get out and look for them, if the job and the garden ever leave us enough time to do so.)

My first Sim-character was Calliope, a friendly, bookwormish artistic writer type who was almost too much like an idealised version of myself — comfortable to play, but not exactly full of surprises or challenges. In contrast, Herb is an ambition-ridden perfectionist who gets antsy when he hasn’t been promoted or received a raise in a while, who takes his time getting everything juuuuust right, and who really doesn’t care who he talks to as long as it gets him where he wants to be in life. He’s predisposed to being friendly, but that tends to take second place to the needs of the job and the garden — and since the gardening feeds almost directly into his job as a chef (pardon the pun), those two activities tend to rule most of his life. His only close friend is his boss, which is pretty sad. On the upside, he only works 3 days a week now and he’s hauling in over 1,000 simoleons a day. Maybe he’s finally reached that stage in his life where he can finally stop being so driven at work and start smelling (instead of mulching) the roses.

Right.

Herb’s driven lifestyle (and of course the marvellous ongoing saga of Alice & Kev) made me wonder if it would be possible to play a Sim who didn’t work but got by all the same — which led to the creation of Sunbeam Moonlight, seen standing here in front of the house she just inherited from her grandmother. Three guesses as to what she might be, and the first two don’t count.

Sunbeam-start

Sadly, her story will have to wait for another day. (Also, Herb’s increasing recognition as a cook and world-class gardner is currently more engrossing than being a fishin’, wanderin’, seed-pickin’ hippie.)