Sims Writing Challenge

Writer’s block is tough to break through. Sometimes you just have to ride it out, especially if it’s from being burned out. Other times, you can find a way around it. When I’m stuck and also lucky, I manage to find a way to do something else that triggers an idea or a surge of energy to do something. Lately, I’ve been super burnt out, so I’ve been doodling and designing sticker sets on my laptop. Another thing I do is people watch. When I was using my school’s transportation, I would watch people out the window of the bus. Now, I go to my favorite café, grab a window seat, and it’s like lunch/dinner and a movie. I was able to find a way to fill the gap between one event and the climax of one book this way. Then it hit me.

What if I watched people, but through the Sims? Sims is one of my fallbacks for when I’m burnt out. I can easily lose hours just making the sim themselves, not to mention their house, family, and life. I have Sims 3 and 4, but I’ve been playing around with 4 since I’m still actively buying game packs and expansions for it. The autonomous function is always interesting to watch, or at least, look back to after a small break while letting it run. With my love of Sims and writing, I decided to make a writing challenge.

At the end of this blog post I will have the rules and potential lists to use for your own use. The point is to randomize everything as much as possible, and have very little control. One of my downloaded items glitched out so I had to randomize an actually usable sim to do so, but it’d be interesting if I had used that character. However, I worried if it would crash the game. I’d say getting a job is optional, but it can give you more of an idea of their personality and some flair for the character too.

peytoncronin

The first character I generated was a girl by the name of Peyton Cronin. She had long pink hair like some sort of anime character and had an interesting set of outfits. Her main set was a pink shirt (that miraculously didn’t clash), some jeans, and some tan boots. Her aspiration in life was to be a city native and have the best turf to own. She was a painter, which could explain the artsy choice of pink hair. Her traits consisted of being a goofball, hating children, and being erratic. The erratic trait used to be the “insane” trait, so likewise the sim will talk to themselves, change outfits randomly, and be unstable. She was a great first character and would be an interesting main character for a book maybe. Noted.

tiaramasters

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a second character or not, but I added one and I fell in love with her design immediately. Her name was Tiara Masters, and she had short black cropped hair and matching black cat ears. Alright, anime town it was. Tiara’s outfits made more sense than Peyton’s for the most part. She aspired to be a mansion baron, which goes almost hand-in-hand with Peyton’s. Tiara’s traits were that she was jealous, ambitious, and a bookworm, generally normal traits. She wound up being a detective, which I wonder if she’d be able to hide her ears with the hat.

Randomizing relations, they became a married couple, and they wound up living in Brindleton Bay, a nice little town that was from the pet expansion. For the main event, however, they wound up going to Skye Fitness in San Myshuno, a city which is inspired by modern cities like New York, San Francisco, and even Tokyo. The gym itself is connected to a patch of land outside of it, which provided some more leeway for interactions, albeit not too many.

As an observer, the first idea I got was from Peyton and Tiara watching a female street performer for hours. They never tipped her or anything, they just stood and watched. They didn’t even talk. The performer eventually left. It was odd how they didn’t interact, even though they were doing the action together. The oddness could provide a way to try to explain such a thing via storytelling. It wasn’t my speed, so let’s move on.

The second idea was from Peyton and Tiara playing basketball together, alone on the rooftop. They were talking together privately until this male gym trainer came up. Tiara left, and perhaps because of her jealousy trait, but otherwise I could apply that as the reasoning and use her trait in that way for inspiration. Tiara went downstairs to go use an exercise machine that I believe is just a weight machine. In this case, Tiara would be the main character of that story.

The third idea was from Tiara and Peyton having a conversation. They’re sleepy and hungry but were otherwise doing okay. Peyton is feeling flirty, and Tiara leaves to take a shower. Peyton goes to use a weight machine and Don Lothario waltzes over, having a flirty conversation with Peyton that goes well. He did this another time before this specific instance. This could be dramatic; is Peyton cheating on Tiara? Or was Don a past fling? Or was she just being polite since this guy is clearly a musclehead bro who could probably bench press her.

The fourth, and last idea was when Peyton was having an erratic moment and was arguing with herself in the corner while three other people in the area were exercising. Initially, I didn’t think much of this until I was reviewing my game footage. How weird would it be if someone was just having a dramatic conversation with only themselves in the middle of this rich area’s gym? That’d be wild! Two people were on the treadmill, and one guy was boxing right next to her.

Overall, the last two ideas intrigued me, but I’m almost leaning towards the fourth more. Now the hard part is writing it, or rather, finding time to focus and write it. It definitely helped me generate ideas, which was the ultimate goal of this challenge, besides producing something. I plan on writing one of the ideas, however, I’m not going to upload it because if it turns out well enough, I might try to shop it around the short story ring of submittable.

Let me know if this challenge helped you generate any ideas of your own! I’d love to hear how it turned out.

Rules

-Must Randomize at least one sim.
-Sims must be autonomous.
-Completely random choices, use https://www.random.org/lists/ and
 https://www.random.org/integers/ with the lists to determine details.
-If it comes down to a 1 or 2 option, or yes or no answer, 1 is yes, 2 is no. Modify the integer list as accordingly.
-Randomize relationships in this fashion, also depends on how many characters you’re using.
-You can choose where they live within a randomized town, but try to restrict yourself to their amount of money if you want to add anything to the house. (I say try because TV’s and computers are expensive, and realistically they would be in a house. Sims could wind up in the house as well and watching tv is a normal action, which is why I mention this.)
-EXTRA CHALLENGE: Number your ideas. Randomize which one you go with.

Here are the base lists I made below, and I added +’s to everything I had as an expansion pack or game pack.

Aspirations

Athletic
Creativity
Deviance
Family
Food
Fortune
Knowledge
Love
Nature
Popularity
+Animal
+Location

Traits

Active
Cheerful
Creative
Genius
Gloomy
Goofball
Hot-headed
Romantic
Self-assured
Unflirty
Art Lover
Bookworm
Foodie
Geek
Music Lover
Perfectionist
Ambitious
Childish
Clumsy
Erratic
Glutton
Kleptomaniac
Lazy
Loves Outdoors
Materialistic
Neat
Slob
Snob
Vegetarian
Bro
Evil
Family-Oriented
Good
Hates Children
Jealous
Loner
Mean
Noncommittal
Outgoing
+Cat Lover
+Dog Lover

Locations

1. Sim’s Home
Oasis Springs
2. Burners & Builders (Gym)
3. Desert Bloom (Park)
4. The Futures Past (Museum)
5. Rattlesnake Juice (Bar)
6. The Solar Flare (Lounge)
Willow Creek
7. The Blue Velvet (Nightclub)
8. Magnolia Blossom (Park)
9. Movers & Shakers (Gym)
10. Municipal Muses (Museum)
11. Willow Creek Archives (Library)
+San Myshuno
12. Mysuno Meadows (Park)
13. Waterside Warble (Karaoke Bar)
14. Casbah Gallery (Arts Center)
15. Planet Honey Pop! (Karaoke Bar)
16. Stargazer Lounge (Lounge)
17. Skye Fitness (Gym)
+Brindleton Bay
18. Brindleton Pawspital (Vet Clinic)
19. Club Calico (Lounge)
20. Deadgrass Discoveries (Museum)
21. Pupperstone Park (Park)
22. Salty Paws Saloon (Bar)
+Magnolia Promenade
23. Paddywhack’s Emporium
24. JF&S Clothiers
25. The Roadstead

Career

+Detective
+Doctor
+Scientist
Astronaut
Athlete
Business
Criminal
Critic
Culinary
Entertainer
Painter
Politician
Secret Agent
Social Media
Tech Guru

The Ignition of My Passion for Storytelling

I can pluck it from one event in my life. Certain memories of mine stand solidly in my mind while in other cases, I can’t remember much from a span of years. In one of those gaps, third grade, one of the hardest years of my academic and personal life, my grades slipped. Not drastically, I still had A’s and B’s, but for one solid year I got consistent, heavy C’s in English.

I can’t remember if English was my favorite subject or not at that point, it was probably art, but I do remember one specific project. We were tasked with recounting a time in our life and retelling it as a short story. We used odd yellow paper that was larger than the usual size and had an uncomfortable texture to it without being flat. The lead hardly showed up on it unless the tip was ready to carve through the page.

I wrote about the most recent Thanksgiving and considering it was the first after my parents divorced, it was just my mom and me. She was making the turkey and getting the table ready when our dogs, allured by the scent of savory meat, were crowding her feet. I can’t remember if our one dog, Buddy, an old Yorkshire Terrier, had passed away at the time, as I remember he passed away in third grade as well. Either way, she fed the dogs as I likely stood uselessly waiting for food. Maybe I was good and set the table, something that was a simple task for me to do just for two.

After dinner when she was cleaning up, she happened to come across a miscellaneous dripping of sauce on the counter. She wiped it up with her finger and popped it in her mouth. What she thought had been turkey juice or gravy was actually juice from the dog food. Her face twisted in bitter disgust and I remember us both laughing at the grievous error. Check that off the “never have I ever” list.

The moment, although brief and enough to gain a small laugh and carry on, meant everything to me in a time where it was hard to smile. Besides the divorce, my best friend had moved away that year as well, and I my little world had shaken so hard it knocked me down for a bit. Although most people at first glance likely wouldn’t suspect that sort of depth from a third grader who still can’t use proper grammar and spell common words correctly. (I still suck with grammar; I wish I could remember the years we actively studied it.)

My teacher didn’t find the story entertaining either, and wrote something to the effect of “this isn’t funny” or “this isn’t interesting.” To her defense, it was likely neither to an adult, especially a teacher reading about thirty of those papers. However, as a child, I took great offense. I believed it to be funny, and if she couldn’t see that— well, I’d just have to write more and get better to prove I could write a good story.

In third grade, I was still playing pretend at recess with the friends I had left, and when that friend group disintegrated around fifth grade, I started writing my ideas of worlds and villains instead of acting them out. Although I moved them onto a backup drive to save space, I wrote a little more than a hundred stories. I hardly finished any of them, but I had so many ideas I wanted to write I just had to get them down somewhere. It wasn’t until sixth grade when I finally wrote a “book” (about 30 pages in size 18 font) that had a narrative arc to it. The rewritten version of this book was the first I ever finished at about 260 pages. I planned four books for the series but only ever had three of the books on a “first draft” basis (all less than 30 pages, if I’m honest).

I’ll never forget what it felt like to finish writing that book. I realized that I actually could. The first hurdle I needed to jump through to become a writer I had vaulted over: I could complete a manuscript. Of course, it took years and shows the clear progression of improvement as it goes on and thus needs many more drafts, but I had done it.

I still have that paper. The decaying pages from almost a decade ago. It sits in a bin at my mom’s house, I think inside of a plastic bag for some form of preservation. (When I return to my Mom’s house I’ll take a picture of it and attach it to this post.) It taught me how to take feedback. While I wasn’t pleased with it, I took it into consideration, and I went to work. It was one of the hardest lessons to learn, but an absolutely necessary one, and I’m glad I learned it early on. I am forever thankful to this teacher in particular, among many others that I couldn’t have grown without the aide of. She was the one that ignited the flame to my passion that’s glowing brighter with time.