Friday, December 11, 2009

Retro-Post: "I missed you, The Sims 3. I'll never leave you again."

With all of the problems I had trying to get World Adventures to work on my computer, I sort of gave up on The Sims 3.

The storyline I was working on had been progressing in such a way that WA would have felt like a natural part of it when it came out. My main family had a toddler and a child who could enjoy all of the new interactions together, and my young adults were having enough professional success to justify taking breaks from work and doing a lot of traveling. I even intended for my most promiscuous Sim to finally fall in love and marry an Asian girl capable of instantly breaking every bone in his body (midcoitally).

But all of those plans fell through the cracks when WA refused to cooperate with my old saved games, and I spent weeks getting nowhere with EA customer support before I finally just gave up. Disheartened, I uninstalled and reinstalled the game and patched it to 1.4.6, but found that there was nothing I wanted my Sims to do anymore. I didn't want to move the story forward because I had always planned for this particular generation to be the one that got to enjoy WA, and it would be a shame for them to grow old and die without ever having the chance to almost die deep underground in France because a store clerk wanted his baseball back.

So recently I shelved The Sims 3 and ran back into the arms of an old love: World of Warcraft. A new content patch for WoW was released this week, and wouldn't you know it, the developers actually fixed the problems that players were experiencing -- within hours of them being reported. It was kind of like being treated to Red Lobster after a month of trying to stomach a gigantic surloin steak that had been repeatedly dropped into multiple toilets. (...all the while being told "that flavor is actually the inside of your mouth, this steak has never even seen a toilet, much less been soaked in one being used by a nameless employee screaming at the fluorescent lights in the ceiling about how much he hates his job and wishes he invented MySpace because Lord knows he thought about something exactly like it in the '90s [when it was called AOL]")

So I logged onto my old priest.

We laughed, we shopped, we got to know each other again. We even slow danced a little to our favorite song (mind controlling people off of cliffs). For a few moments, I remembered how fun WoW could be and why I loved it for so many years.

At the height of my nostalgia, I tried to join a group for an easy raid instance, to get back into the swing of things. A group was looking for a healer for 10-man Onyxia, so I asked to join as my priest. "GS?" the raid leader asks me. I don't know what this question means. "No clue," I respond. He responds "........." and puts me on his ignore list, then continues his search.


I took a moment to look up "GS." It stands for "Gear Score." Apparently, in the few months that I was away from WoW, a trend began in the WoW community where players would input their character's name into an unendorsed third-party web site that would calculate their "worth" as a player into a numerical value. The number is determined by the quality of the clothes they wear on their virtual bodies, and has little to do with their actual skill or understanding of the game. Many in the WoW community are against the use of this number to inaccurately judge other players by, but the vast majority of players/elitists see value in this system as a way of judging strangers before attempting difficult high-end content with them. ("Difficult high-end content" of which 10-man Onyxia is not.)

So I'm like "bleh," and I try to join a different group. This other group is forming for 10-man Vault of Archavon, another easy raid instance, so I join and luckily the raid leader isn't an elitist prick. After 30 minutes of gathering and organizing, we finally go in and attempt the first boss. Less than 1 minute into the fight, half of the raid dies from forgetting not to stand in gigantic pillars of fire on the ground. Everyone screams their heads off at each other, insults are thrown left and right, healers are blamed, tanks are blamed, and the group disbands.

...I cancelled my WoW account again. The game is fun, but the social atmosphere is disgusting. I imagine, if you could breathe in the game, it would smell like a colliseum jam-packed with sweaty 30-year-olds, stale Doritos, unwashed hair, and socks that were worn the whole week but never entered shoes. People who play WoW place so much value in empty rewards but place little value in the human players they cooperate with to get those rewards. It's sad, and not really worth putting up with in an attempt to have a little fun.

Last night, I pulled The Sims 3 back off of my shelf and played again for the first time in weeks. It was a breath of fresh air. I started right where I left off: with the kids who are my third generation, discovering life, exploring the world with awe and bewilderment, making their parents smile, and pooping on a purple toilet in the middle of the living room in front of guests while they dance, laugh, smile, and then grimace and cover their noses upon realizing what happened.

I missed you, The Sims 3. I'll never leave you again.

(Another thing I love about Sims is that when they're being jerks, I can wall them into pools and watch them die.)

TLDR Version:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Retro-Post: "Snob Baby"

"The Adventures of Snob Baby!!" #1

"The Adventures of Snob Baby!!" #2

"The Adventures of Snob Baby!!" #3

Bonus: "Future Snob Baby #1"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Retro-Post: "Vampires"

Back Story: In an attempt to rescue his kidnapped son, Daniel Anderson gathered a team of Sunset Valley's top men to infiltrate a household of Evil Sims. But the plan was not a success. Some died. Others were not so lucky...

Episode 2: Parker Langerak makes a daring escape...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Retro-Post: "Langerak"

Back Story: Dustin Langerak recently wronged my Sim's daughter Tasha, and now her zany parents want him to suffer.

Extended, Melodramatic Back Story: Recently in my game, Dustin Langerak cheated on his wife with my Sim's newly legal daughter, Tasha Anderson. Then, he got kicked out of his house and tried to move in with Tasha, who instead broke up with him in the doorway when she found out he was married. Dustin became violently displeased and there was an intense moment where he physically attacked her.

After that night, I felt a strangely human responsibility to my Sim. I wanted her to not just pretend that night didn't happen, and I wanted to make sure Dustin didn't just live out his days like any other Sim. So I had Tasha write a news article exposing Dustin as a wife beater, then used a cheat to set all of his relationships to negative (justified as a result of the article).

...and then I sent Tasha's insane parents to beat him down in broad daylight. This comic strip is composed of the resulting screenshots.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Retro-Post: "Re: Why do adults play The Sims?"

Edit: If you're looking for the chronological first post in this blog, please refer to the following link:

Playing The Sims is kind of like looking at life's big picture at a distance.

The game is like a virtual representation of our own lives. Even if our Sims are very different from ourselves, we project ourselves onto them unconsciously. They sometimes take on our own habits: indulging in a hobby until the sun comes up, going through the next day's responsibilities on an hour of sleep, neglecting our loved ones in favor of self-improvement or our careers, or neglecting those goals in favor of our loved ones and pleasures.

In real life, there has to be a balance to all these things: sleep, work, family/friends, and self. In the game, it's easier to see the balance and maintain it. Looking at life in fastforward, you see how much time a Sim wastes versus how much time they could be spending on the things in life that actually matter. A lot of us have a hard time seeing that in our own lives.

I have an adult Sim who has fulfilled all of his life's goals and maxed out all of his skills. I was bored of him and thought about killing him off, until I realized his new role now is to be a support figure to his family and friends who are still trying. I'm sure that happens in real life as well; at some point, we become comfortable enough to give up our narcissism and live for others.

I have another Sim who died of old age before he ever fulfilled his dreams; he was so caught up trying to make ends meet in a job he didn't even like, that he never found time to focus on himself. That's just sad, but very telling.

Anyway, I guess my point is that I love The Sims because of all of the philosophy and insight you can pull from it just by watching these little people live their lives. It is one of the most intelligent games ever made.

I also like making attractive people WooHoo!!!