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February 3rd- It's time for our Friday Highlights! You can check them out here!

The Art of Sims Storytelling

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  • DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 6,023 Member
    @MonaSolstraale I became conscious of screenshots after looking at the size of them. I have a 27" 5k monitor and my game runs at 5120x2880 and my screenshots are almost always in the 10-15mb range before I resize them. I can't find the size afterwards but even though I resize them to 1024x768 or smaller, they're still huge I imagine. That's a big reason, no pun intended, why I try to limit the number I use.

    On the subject of topics in this thread it is really fun to see the ideas flowing back and forth.
    My Gallery ID: DaniRose2143
    Under The Tartosan Sun
    Schemes and Dreams
  • HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 315 Member
    edited December 2022
    Today I'm posting here just to share a picture from the save I'm using to build the setting for the next story I have in mind.

    FSOOlcJ.png

    Long story short, I wanted to give a pet owl to one of the characters, but I really wanted it to be a barn owl, specifically. So that I didn't find anything similar online I've spent a lot of time trying to recolour a normal owl, it's not perfect but (for my limited skills) I'm definitively satisfied.

    Hi Maya the barn owl, it's a pleasure to finally see you physically appearing in my game!
    2if86miljyb3.png
    You can follow the Legacy Miller on my blog and on the forum thread, *Chapter 5.16 Updated on 29th January 2023*
  • InfraGreenInfraGreen Posts: 6,666 Member
    @HermioneSims: the behind the scenes CC making has been my biggest interest with sims stories recently. Anyways the owl looks great. I've been out of the loop with Sims content so I figured it was another TS4 animal...whatever that implies.
    A thousand bared teeth, a thousand bowed heads

    outrun / blog / tunglr
  • DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 6,023 Member
    @HermioneSims I think Maya looks fantastic and your picture has piqued my curiosity.
    My Gallery ID: DaniRose2143
    Under The Tartosan Sun
    Schemes and Dreams
  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,334 Member
    @HermioneSims That recolour looks so good! I love it!
    they/them or she/her - remember to only support ethical CC creators! - QpGHgt3.png
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,753 Member
    @HermioneSims Maya looks great! Very curious to see what your next story will be.
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    Seventeen & Maldusk Forum thread link
  • haneulhaneul Posts: 1,514 Member
    @HermioneSims I agree that Maya looks great. The setting is interesting and studious-looking too. :)
  • HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 315 Member
    Thanks a lot everyone! I haven't written a single line of that story yet (because I want to finish with the Millers before), but I'm already having quite a lot of fun with that save :P
    2if86miljyb3.png
    You can follow the Legacy Miller on my blog and on the forum thread, *Chapter 5.16 Updated on 29th January 2023*
  • haneulhaneul Posts: 1,514 Member
    Since I'm a gameplay-based storyteller, I don't have to worry about finding the right poses or clothing to use in my game. My game is overloaded with CC/mods, but not having to seek things out makes storytelling easier for me in some ways. For those of you who do set up scenes, I imagine that finding things to suit your plot is part of the fun. Do you mostly create your plot first and then try to find/design things or find/design things and then try to put them into your plot? To what extent (if ever) do you let gameplay influence your story?

    I try to stay faithful to what happens in my game, but I'm not a 100% purist. Sometimes, my interpretation of why something happened or even what happened is a bit of a stretch and I also use a bit of photoshop here and there to make some edits, but it's all based on events that happened in my game.
  • friendsfan367friendsfan367 Posts: 29,268 Member
    haneul wrote: »
    Since I'm a gameplay-based storyteller, I don't have to worry about finding the right poses or clothing to use in my game. My game is overloaded with CC/mods, but not having to seek things out makes storytelling easier for me in some ways. For those of you who do set up scenes, I imagine that finding things to suit your plot is part of the fun. Do you mostly create your plot first and then try to find/design things or find/design things and then try to put them into your plot? To what extent (if ever) do you let gameplay influence your story?

    I try to stay faithful to what happens in my game, but I'm not a 100% purist. Sometimes, my interpretation of why something happened or even what happened is a bit of a stretch and I also use a bit of photoshop here and there to make some edits, but it's all based on events that happened in my game.

    i try and do that too. iwatch the benders like a hawk and somehow even though noels only been seperated a few hours he has a newborn with someone who isn't lauren.
  • DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 6,023 Member
    @hanuel My storytelling is a mix of gameplay and scripted. I have my story ready in my head first and then go looking for anything I may need to bring it to life. Almost every time I know what the plot point or what character I'm going to focus on is. I will go looking for any items I may need to add to the story to draw the readers deeper into it or make them bond more with a character. I'm always open to my characters surprising me and adding new layers and wrinkles to the story too.
    My Gallery ID: DaniRose2143
    Under The Tartosan Sun
    Schemes and Dreams
  • hellohannah2hellohannah2 Posts: 596 Member
    @haneul I have to say I'm completely story focused - the story comes first and the game only serves to illustrate it. That's not to say that i don't get ideas from playing the game, because sometimes the sims will do something or there'll be some occurrence in the game and I'll think "hm! What if i wrote something like that into it?" Also I'm limited by the capabilities of the game to a certain extent, so I try not to write anything that I know would be impossible to illustrate. Mostly though, the writing comes first. In fact I try to stay about 4/5 chapters ahead of what is published, just so i have time to read, re-read and polish it all off.

    I actually came here to ask another question of you all! Getting to answer that one was just an added bonus :wink:

    How frequently do you update your story? Do you stick to a strict schedule? And if you're a reader, what's the sweet spot for you? How often do you like to see new chapters appearing in your feed? I'm at this point currently that I'm rearing to just upload everything I have prepared and finish off one big chunk. (I'm currently editing chapter eighteen of twenty from part 1) But I don't want to be off-putting or overwhelm readers by putting too much out there too quickly. I know people are reading more than just my story, and my chapters are relatively long, so maybe it's wise to keep it on a weekly upload schedule, just so everyone has time to catch up. OR maybe I should just get it all out there and get it done.

    Any thoughts on this? :kissing_heart:
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,334 Member
    Answering @haneul's question here:
    Finding things to suit my plot is actually stressful for me and not fun at all : P . Having to find good poses, and having to find historical clothing that a) isn't broken or corrupted, b) actually works on fat sims and c) isn't made by a toxic creator is very stressful...and don't get me started on the lack of masc CC ESPECIALLY for historical sims! Thankfully I can make my own poses now so that makes things easier if I can't find the poses I need in the wild. And as my story regulars already know I use Paint Tool SAI and GIMP and lighting mods/GShade to make TS4 look prettier. You don't realise how meh it looks vanilla until you use GShade and lighting mods, darn : O

    Sometimes even with CC I have to work around my idea if I don't have the CC / poses to fit it. Like maybe if a character is doing something and I can't show it I'll just write it in without any accompanying pictures sometimes, depends what it is. I do sometimes let gameplay influence my story, one in particular being that...the time I decided to reveal a werewolf in my story, was decided to be when the full moon happened in my game whilst I was playing to get screenshots, to allow for some 'randomness' in the plot. I try to do that so I don't fall too much into making the plot convenient for the characters too much.

    @hellohannah2
    I get overwhelmed a lot more easy nowadays, so I prefer weekly updates at a minimum. But I don't think a batch upload would be offputting. If it were me I'd just maybe read a chapter of a batch upload every other day or something and just pace myself. It's what I do with the folks who somehow find the energy to write multiple chapters a week : P I don't stick to a strict schedule, folks get the chapters as and when they come. I don't have as much time to read now because of work which is why I am so slow reading friends' stories...
    they/them or she/her - remember to only support ethical CC creators! - QpGHgt3.png
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,753 Member
    About planning, writing and custom stuff.

    I come from both a writing and art background. But I never really liked playing games, even as a kid. I just "played" by making up stories, drawing, and making things.

    Looking for or making custom stuff is definitely part of the fun. I started learning to make my own custom poses around Chapter 8, and by the end of Season One (most of which hasn't been posted yet) I was almost exclusively using my own poses when I needed custom ones. I love the creative process of designing the poses to get just the right feel for what I want. Sometimes when I feel like I can't write, making poses helps me get inspired again.

    For custom objects, I do a lot of my own recolors, if there is an in-game object that will work. This is also a lot of fun for me. For objects that need a new mesh, I either hunt online (which is usually fun, unless I can't seem to find anything that will work) or I put in a request with my 3D modeler spouse to get exactly what I want. Later on in this season some of his really cool stuff will start to make an appearance. I feel very lucky to have my own support team-mate like that.

    Some scenes (especially conversations) are done live, because the game has awesome facial expressions, and I love seeing what comes up for that. But I use the screenshots in whatever order makes sense for my story, rather the order in which they occurred in the game.

    I think, basically, I secretly want to be a movie director, and this lets me pretend like I am one. :lol:


    About the schedule.

    So far I am sticking to a once a week schedule. "Probably Sundays". But there will have to be hiatuses, because I definitely don't produce the chapters that fast. I'll be taking planned breaks mid-season and between seasons to stay as far ahead as I want to be. I need to be working really far ahead so I have room to write in the utterly non-linear manner that works best for me creatively, before polishing up the final draft (which does flow in a more or less linear fashion by the time I'm done with it) for posting.
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    Seventeen & Maldusk Forum thread link
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,753 Member
    @SnowBnuuy You put a lot of work into your screenshots in Divided, and I think they look gorgeous. Even if it's overwhelming or stressful for you to carry out, I am always impressed with the quality. They really enhance the emotional aspect of your story.
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    Seventeen & Maldusk Forum thread link
  • MonaSolstraaleMonaSolstraale Posts: 1,212 Member
    @haneul I think I do both. I start with a plot or a story I want to tell and some goals I want to fulfill, but along the way I let myself be inspired by what happens in the game.
    The road from start to finish can take various detours. Some characters arouse my curiosity and thus find a place in the story. I often save my game under a new name so I can later replay a certain episode to retrieve some images I'm missing.
    I love to arrange different environments, for a backdrop. I often play ahead of the story and experiment with different directions a character can go. Some are never used and others get a place in the story. I think it makes the whole process more playful and entertaining.
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,753 Member
    @hellohannah2 I got called to dinner, so I didn't answer the second part of your question. As a reader, it's a bit difficult for me to keep up with stories that have chapters posted more than once a week, unless they are very short. I feel like once a week is probably that sweet spot for me where I don't tend to get behind, but I also don't lose track of what is going on (a problem that can occur with posts being spread out further). That's pretty much why I chose to post once a week for my own story (until I have to take a break for working ahead purposes). But I also don't mind if I get a little behind when I'm reading. Eventually, I have time to binge and catch up, and that can be fun too, because it's more immersive.
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    Seventeen & Maldusk Forum thread link
  • haneulhaneul Posts: 1,514 Member
    @DaniRose2143 Thanks for answering my question. With the gameplay aspect, if you have your story ready in your head, do you play it out, directing your gameplay as you intend it to happen while maybe allowing some Sims 4 randomness here and there? For me, I played all generations of my legacy normally, but with 5 I think I've been a lot better at slowly structuring a story. The improvement comes from taking more screenshots, paying more attention to details, having most Sim days packed full of events, and just being more familiar with my Sims. If I've already established a Sim as having X or Y trait, it's easier to find things that fit or clash with that pattern.

    @hellohannah2 I like your approach, especially because it feels the opposite of mine. My first several chapters are a bit off, but what I want to do is show how the gameplay (with mods) can be deep and used to create a layered story. I don't write several chapters ahead, but I play several bits ahead so that when I write there's some kind of flow and direction. Since I do this for fun, almost every recent post of mine includes some self-indulgent writing: allusions, double entendre, and/or an odd/rare phrase that I like.
    To answer your question, I try to update 3-4 times a month, ideally spread out over the month. I would love to do 1-2/week or something every 5 days, but I can't keep up with that pace. As a reader, I don't care when people post updates. I read and catch up on chapters on my own random schedule.

    @SnowBnuuy I can imagine that finding things for your plot would be stressful. I would be overwhelmed, so I just don't do it. Personally, I realize how vanilla my TS4 is when I look at some of screenshots and I have to edit them to make it look like I used ReShade/GShade. ReShade works in my game now, looks good and doesn't hurt my computer, so I haven't bothered upgrading to GShade yet. One thing I've noticed about Divided and your other stories is that you're very artistic. You can draw well, so when you're enhancing your screenshots, it always seems like you have a strong sense of the light and what to do to make the images more impactful.

    @GlacierSnow That's cool that you have a writing and art background. I look forward to seeing your new meshes. This probably isn't the best way to put it, but I feel like I can see the influence of a director in Seventeen & Maldusk because you pay careful attention to your scenes/settings. Your backgrounds have a lot of meaning and your images do a lot of work.

    @MonaSolstraale That's interesting. I really like your characters. They somehow feel more realistic than typical Sims, even though you have a lot of humor and aliens and other things. I don't know, but I get warm & fuzzy feelings when I read about Tusnelda.
  • _sims_Yimi_sims_Yimi Posts: 1,624 Member
    edited December 2022
    Fun questions!

    @haneul
    Do you mostly create your plot first and then try to find/design things or find/design things and then try to put them into your plot? To what extent (if ever) do you let gameplay influence your story?
    I can definitely relate to what @GlacierSnow said about wanting to be a movie director. In the very beginning I’d let the game influence what happened in my chapters a little bit, but only a little. And ever since they became teens I’ve had an iron grip on what is and isn’t allowed to happen without my say-so. Even the weather is planned and scheduled now. 😆

    I generally make the “script” first and then fit it into the game, but I do try to keep in mind what the game’s limits are. I fell into the trap of trying to do things that the game just couldn’t handle with TS3 and it was very frustrating, ha. That might be a question too, actually. For the narrative storytellers out there – do you ever try to make scenes that stretch the limits of what the game can handle? Have you ever had to give up/change scenes that just weren’t possible? Special effects, environments, those kinds of things? I’ve noticed that TS4 can handle a fair bit of fun things (way more than TS3) even if the game itself wasn’t made with that in mind. Mods and CC are amazing 🤩

    @hellohannah2
    How frequently do you update your story? Do you stick to a strict schedule? And if you're a reader, what's the sweet spot for you? How often do you like to see new chapters appearing in your feed?
    I used to try and stick to once a week, but how long story chapters take now depends entirely on how busy I am in real life. These days, I can roughly handle once every two weeks. Kinda. I think I’m already past that with the current chapter 😂 If they take a lot of effort to make (lots of special effects, tricky dialogue, events with loads of sims on the same lot, etc) it can take anywhere between a week and... long. 🤣 The longest I've spent making one chapter was a full month.

    As a reader, it depends on whether I’m actively keeping up with each chapter, or catching up. Reading along I like the once a week, or once a two week schedule. I don’t lose track of the plot easily, but I do get overwhelmed very quickly if a lot of chapters are released at once or right after each other. That does drive me away. If it’s a story that’s already been going for a while, I try to binge to catch up.
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,334 Member
    edited December 2022
    @_sims_Yimi YES! SO MANY TIMES :'( Usually because the relevant piece of CC I need is broken or paywalled or something, or I can’t find the right poses/don’t have time to make the right poses. Or because I have to try and do massive group shots, but thank goodness for silhouettes and deco sims.
    There was meant to be a scene in Divided where a certain someone was doing some sort of mooncaster ritual outside, with a wolf mask on, but their hair kept cutting through the mask and it also didn’t cover up enough of the character’s face for it to hide who the mooncaster was.

    Most of the examples I can think of are all pre-CC era though, so many scenes I had to change or just not write at all because of the limits. How long the lion photo-editing took. I never want to think about it again XD

    Most of the post-CC era stuff I can find a way around most of the time. It feels weird being able to actually picture things that got glossed over in the old stuff.

    @haneul Thank you ;-; I do have to think about some of them from an artistic perspective, especially when I’m adding light glow like from magic or fire. Since I also add some glow on the surrounding objects or people to make it look more immersive, and then it’s thinking about where the light will hit.
    they/them or she/her - remember to only support ethical CC creators! - QpGHgt3.png
  • DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 6,023 Member
    @hanuel I direct gameplay a lot more than I intended when I started. That has a lot to do with the characters careers and the things that happen 'off camera' that I want the readers to see. Both of my current couples who are married, or about to be, proposed autonomously while I was with another household. I couldn't bear to let that go and not recreate how I imagined it happened. In my story instead of sending Liberty to the rabbit hole secret agent job I follow her to a lot I set up to be S.I.M.S. headquarters. I come up with a storyline about something or someone she's investigating then send her and the other characters to that lot and act out the scenario for screenshots. The same sort of thing is happening with Summer and her career. I have an idea for her culinary career that I will work in similar way. Doing their careers like this they're actually unemployed, I just add a little money to their bank account here and there to simulate a regular paycheck. The only character who has a job she goes to is Londyn and that's only because she's an actress and I can tag along and get my shots to illustrate the dialogue.

    I have other events and such planned for all of the characters jobs and personal lives that will have to be directed because they would never do the things I have planned on their own.
    My Gallery ID: DaniRose2143
    Under The Tartosan Sun
    Schemes and Dreams
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,753 Member
    edited December 2022
    Do you ever try to make scenes that stretch the limits of what the game can handle? Have you ever had to give up/change scenes that just weren’t possible?

    Yes and no. I definitely write scenes that I know I'm going to have to put a lot of work into in order to get the effect I want. Things that aren't in the game, or that don't work the way the game works. But, it also doesn't matter much for me. Because, in the case of Seventeen & Maldusk, I'm only using the game as a tool for getting the images I want, not actually playing it. Since I make my own poses and I have in-house support for custom objects, nothing I want feels actually impossible. It's just a matter of how much work we're willing to put in.

    The only limitation of the game that has really been an issue so far is the fact that I can't place new buildable lots any where I want (as we could in sims 3). I've had to get creative in later chapters with a variety of image editing, custom content, and camera angles to pull off some of the shots I want, but so far I've never given up on anything I really wanted. Sometimes I change my approach, because my first thought on how to do it isn't working, but I don't change the story itself. Time will tell however. I may someday hit my perseverance limit.
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  • hellohannah2hellohannah2 Posts: 596 Member
    Do you ever try to make scenes that stretch the limits of what the game can handle? Have you ever had to give up/change scenes that just weren’t possible?

    The only limitation of the game that has really been an issue so far is the fact that I can't place new buildable lots any where I want (as we could in sims 3). I've had to get creative in later chapters with a variety of image editing, custom content, and camera angles to pull off some of the shots I want, but so far I've never given up on anything I really wanted. Sometimes I change my approach, because my first thought on how to do it isn't working, but I don't change the story itself. Time will tell however. I may someday hit my perseverance limit.

    I agree on this one! When I got sims 4 this was one of the most surprising things for me. Before I could just toss a lot of any size onto any terrain, and honestly it's been pretty limiting, and I feel like us storytellers were spoiled by sims 3. What also gets my goat is the inability to move sims in BB, that was always something I took for granted before but now I have to plan where I want my sims to be before I pose them! Aaaagh!

    To me as well, and it's a smaller thing, the lack of cars & driving has been a bit of a challenge. I would have written a lot more car scenes into my story if there was the option. But I suppose in a way the limitations of the game can push you to think outside the box a bit more, and prevent you from falling back on comfortable writing tropes that you've become accustomed to.
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  • HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 315 Member
    I turn away for a moment, and look at what nice discussion has popped out overnight! Let's see if I manage to add something...

    Do you mostly create your plot first and then try to find/design things or find/design things and then try to put them into your plot? To what extent (if ever) do you let gameplay influence your story?

    I started making SimLit with TS2, and with that game I used to write whole chapters (if not story arcs in advance) and, once I was happy about the results, I passed to the game to set up the scenes and screenshots. I had learnt very well how to use TS2 for this purpose and thus I was quite reluctant, I resisted up to 2019 before passing to TS4. At that point the game was completely new to me though, so I decided to try to play it to understand better what I could do with the game, explore it and learn. That's how the Legacy Miller (a game-driven story) was born, I was looking for a way to explore as much of the game as possible before returning to a more staged-story.

    Do you ever try to make scenes that stretch the limits of what the game can handle? Have you ever had to give up/change scenes that just weren’t possible?

    This question is actually quite related to the previous one to me. I try to know the game as well as possible before starting plot-driven stories with a lot of staging involved, with the exact purpose of understanding which kinds of scenes are possible with my equipment (a non-gaming laptop) and my technical skills. With TS2 I found it so much easier because sims could literally be moved around in build mode just like regular objects (as mentioned before for TS3), while for what I learnt up to now very crowded scenes sound so much harder in TS4 (even just having sims remaining sit on the same chair is a struggle).
    Overall I tend to avoid scenes which are too hard to represent with the game, or which require random cc objects I can't find, but with some other scenes that have been in my mind for so long to make me willing even try to make my own cc for the purpose (I say try because I'm still bad at making cc, for now I mostly tried recolours or very small changes to meshes. I still have to learn almost everything about poses, and that will be very important too, at a certain point).

    How frequently do you update your story? Do you stick to a strict schedule? And if you're a reader, what's the sweet spot for you? How often do you like to see new chapters appearing in your feed?

    Now with the Miller Legacy I'm trying to post a couple of updates per week, because I know how long the story is going to be and I don't want to take 5 years to finish posting it. However, often I'm too busy for doing so, and I try to at least post one per week. The fact that here I'm just translating something I wrote in the past makes it so much easier, to write from zero two chapters per week would just be impossible for me.
    The next story I have in mind is probably going to be more complex instead, so I'm most likely going to post one chapter per week if not one every two weeks.
    As a reader instead, let's say that I would struggle to follow everyone's stories if you were all updating every other day and that, on the other hand, I would have a quite hard time remembering the previous part of the story and the characters if the updates were just one per month. Let's say that for me anywhere between twice a week and once every two weeks sound nice as a reader.
    2if86miljyb3.png
    You can follow the Legacy Miller on my blog and on the forum thread, *Chapter 5.16 Updated on 29th January 2023*
  • Kellogg_J_KelloggKellogg_J_Kellogg Posts: 1,156 Member
    haneul wrote: »
    Since I'm a gameplay-based storyteller, I don't have to worry about finding the right poses or clothing to use in my game. My game is overloaded with CC/mods, but not having to seek things out makes storytelling easier for me in some ways. For those of you who do set up scenes, I imagine that finding things to suit your plot is part of the fun. Do you mostly create your plot first and then try to find/design things or find/design things and then try to put them into your plot? To what extent (if ever) do you let gameplay influence your story?

    The best way I explain my writing process in this regard is to describe how I'm writing the next chapter of Sim 66.

    I played the saved game the other day and selected the characters I wanted to follow: Suzy and Neil Humphries. He's a freelance artist, she's an investigative journalist in the Style Influencer career. Both had a day off from work which meant I could do literally anything with them without having to worry about getting to work or assignments done. I then checked back on their last few appearances in the stories to look for plot hooks left over and found that Suzy needs to investigate on a mysterious painting that's in the Future's Past museum in Willow Creek. OK, so this chapter's going to be about that search for more information. There's no point going back to Future's Past as I want to move the plot line on a bit so where's the main cultural hub in Sim City? It's the Casbah Gallery in San Myshuno. So I have Suzy and Neil go there; she asks the questions, he uses his art expertise. I play them as normal at the gallery, letting them free choose what they do there...which is look at paintings and talk to people. So already that part of the chapter is being formed: One of those people is an informant who passes on a clue to Suzy and Neil.

    After the gallery they move on to another location. I want them to go to a bar somewhere and I randomly choose one. Again, they meet someone there...OK, that's the next contact, the next clue. The pattern is set: I'm steering them to places I think make a good setting to advance the plot and as they interact with it and the other Sims there I'm jotting down script ideas. Once I'd finished the gameplay part (I generally play out one day for one household at a time) and have got the screen caps, I'm ready to write it all up into a narrative, making sure the continuity is in line with what's gone before.

    As a kind of coda to the gameplay part, any new randomly generated Sim has to be given a Sixties make over. That's a fun part of my gameplay. I go to my massive Sixties photo archive on Pinterest (2,000+ images of people, models, households, hairstyles, shoes, outfits, accessories and make up), remove the awful random townie fashion, choose a photo from the Sixties and make the townie resemble the picture.
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