Family Strategies and Creating an Optimal Family Group
Experienced Simmers will already have the basics of family design well in hand, and likely the more advanced bits as well, but if you are new to the series there are some elements of family creation that may not be obvious from the start. The basic idea in the strategic creation of the family unit is to stack the deck in favor of your success, but to do that you need to be aware of some of the pitfalls that will crop up as well as the basic needs and requirements that exist in every Sim family.
First though, let's talk about the city you are going to settle in... After you install Ambitions a new town will be available that was not available before -- Twinbrooks -- and while you certainly are not required to have your new Sim family settle there, as it is an integral part of the new expansion you may want to do it at least once so you get the true feel of the expansion in the manner that the developers intended... That was our thinking on it, and that is why the new SuperCheats family -- that is Karl and Ute to you -- settled in Twinbrooks!
Once you have decided on the town, you need to carefully think about how many members there will be in the family unit. Basic strategy suggests that you have a minimum of two -- though having more than two can be very useful to you, especially from the perspective of early earnings that you can use to improve your Sim's lot in life -- but we will get to that in a bit. For now let us discuss the basics for roles and the factors that you may wish to consider in choosing your family size.
The first consideration is the question of the family unit -- are all of the Sims in your family actually related, or are you creating a roommate situation? The Sim Creation Tool allows you to set the relationships between the Sims you create as part of the family unit, so you can have them be related to one another in different ways, or not at all, that choice is part of the process of creation.
Designating a utility Sim is a boon for your household
With all of that in mind there is a specific list of criteria that you will want to take into consideration as you plan out your family, which generally includes the following:
-- Lot/House Size availability in your price range
-- The number of beds/bedrooms
-- The reasonable living space
-- The number of adults in the family unit
-- The number of children (if any) in the family unit
-- The division of labour/chores
-- Generational strategies (if any)
So in a nutshell, depending upon the difficulty level that you choose you will only have so much money available to you at the start of the game, and how much you have is largely going to dictate the size, quality, and level of housing that you have access to. Under normal circumstances, when the size of a family unit is two adults, a pre-furnished home is the optimal choice, but when you have more than two adults, due to the usual low number of bedrooms/beds in the lower-end of the housing spectrum, it actually makes more sense to build on a lot rather than purchase a pre-made furnished house.
When you go that route you want to keep your initial house build as simple as possible and try to plan out the floor layout for flow -- making it less likely that the choke points of the bathroom, kitchen, and dining areas will be problems. Leveraging the excellent outdoor elements of the game -- a deck or patio for instance -- as your dining area is a great way to save on the expense of the initial construction, and of course placing single beds in a shared bedroom is another way.
In the previous section on starting strategies we have already covered issues like skill overlapping, and dividing up the basic family responsibilities but now we need to address those in a more specific and informative way. We will start with the Bohemian-Slacker Role and then the Career Role...
-- Bohemian-Slacker --
As odd as this may sound, this is probably the more important member of the family at least at first, because this is the designated go-to and the backbone of the family unit -- the Sim who is not only going to take care of all of the bits that are required to keep the family rolling along in comfort, but also the Sim most likely to provide the income and benefits that your family will need in the first part of your game. So let us examine this odd duck!
The first element that you need to consider is what makes them a Bohemian-Slacker? Well the simple answer to that is that they do not follow the traditional and regimented Career path. The second is that they have a much more relaxed view on life, and that is actually important because much of the less desirable duties end up being heaped upon their shoulders. Still the unparalleled levels of personal freedom that they possess more than makes up for that.
The first major consideration for the creation of this Sim is what they will do as their non-traditional job/profession and source of income and satisfaction? There are many options -- Artist, Author, Inventor, Fisherman, Photographer, Collector, Hacker, Musician, and even Gardner if you have the space or one of your Sims is a Vintner (Wine Maker). Many of these non-traditional "professions" have official support in the game with the Ambitions expansion, allowing your Sim to visit Town Hall and register as a self-employed Sim under one of the categories (obviously not Hacker LOL).
Painting is ther traditional Slacker profession
Whether or not you decide to register your Sim as self-employed is really a matter of whether or not you want to take advantage of the additional content in the game that was created to address that career choice -- but I strongly recommend that you do choose to register one of their alternative professions as it opens up the path to official recognition for those skills in the community, which in turn broadens their potential sources for income, allows them access to the goods market in the form of the Buy and Bargain Consignment Shop, as well as a plethora of random opportunities in the form of semi-official job requests from other Sims. There is more, but this should nicely frame why registering as a self-employed Sim has benefits.
I previously mentioned that this Sim would play an important role beyond its simple utility function as the initial source for the income you will need to better your home, and the lives of your Sims, and I was not exaggerating when I said that. Bearing in mind that regardless of the career path that your Career Sim will take, their ability to earn an income of any great size will be drastically restricted by the natural process of starting out at the bottom of their profession -- at Level 1 -- and working their way to Level 10. In the process while they will earn a reasonable and predictable amount of money from their job and career, your Bohemian-Slacker will have a much less restrictive path to follow, and as they level up in their non-traditional profession they will find themselves rapidly out-earning your Career Sim!
Because of that, the income that they earn will be critical, though do bear in mind that the process by which they earn it -- leveling their slacker skill -- is tempered by the fact that at the same time they will be learning other skills that are required for their role as caretaker, homemaker, and all-around utility Sim! There is the need to learn and level Cooking and Handiness at a minimum, and then they will be spending time cleaning, cooking, doing the laundry, taking out the trash, recycling the newspapers, paying the bills and collecting the mail, repairing all of the objects in the home that break -- and there will be plenty of those -- and doing all of the other small tasks that make life easier on the Career Sim.
In addition to all of that they will naturally be applying their skills -- and advancing them -- by upgrading these objects as well as keeping them in good repair, and at the same time they will serve as the assistant to your Career Sim with respect to other duties -- playing chess with them to help them level their Logic skill, talking and recreating with them to help them maintain their social and happiness levels, and so on. It really is a job unto itself, while at the same time your Slacker Sim will also be leveling their non-traditional profession!
There can be no doubt that the role that this Sim plays in the success of the household is a considerable one, and a valuable one not to be overlooked. Your efforts therefore must be evenly divided -- or as evenly as they can be -- between the two types of Sim in order that they each progress in a manner that compliments the other.
The newest member of the Slacker profession is Sculpting
Take Karl SuperCheats for example -- Karl is an artist who has high cooking and repair skills, and easily manages the day-to-day process of keeping the household running smoothly. When I chose his characteristics in the Sim Creation Tool the focus was more on his Bohemian-Slacker career needs than the household itself, but it could just as easily have gone the other way...
A close examination of Karl reveals a Sim that was created to be both a utility character and a leading money-maker, having been created with the following Traits and Lifetime Goal:
Lifetime Wish: Master of the Arts (Master the Painting and Guitar Skills)
First Trait: Virtuoso
Second Trait: Bookworm
Third Trait: Artistic
Fourth Trait: Computer Whiz
Fifth Trait: Friendly
As you can see three of the five Traits were focused upon his non-traditional profession, while the Bookworm Trait is specifically an advantage for him in acquiring quickly the base support skills for management of the household -- and of course the Friendly Trait is equally in both camps.
His Lifetime Wish makes perfect sense for him considering that he was planned to be an Artist and Musician and planned to be registered as a self-employed Artist. That being the case, again, the wish makes perfect sense. If he was not registered as a self-employed Artist/Painter he would still have had access to the goals for the skill, but not the career -- by registering him I effectively doubled his opportunities for gaining Lifetime Rewards Points since he has twice as many changes now that he is pursuing both the skill and the career!
So you see there are many more considerations to be made than simply the basic skills. And the results of choosing wisely can easily smooth out all of the other aspects of both household management and contribute significantly to your success and how quickly you acquire the sort of wealth that allows you to make a nicer home, have all of the kit and objects you need for your careers, and even take some time off to travel and see the world!
-- Career Path Sim --
Pretty much the main thrust of this expansion is the development of the new careers and the meaningful enhancements to the old (original) ones -- and that being the case as we have already said, your attentions will be divided between the two supporting roles. Which career you choose is generally not a consideration for this phase of the Family Group planning and strategy -- we know that you will be choosing one of the careers, that is a given, and the true concern in the planning stages is largely to equip the household with the objects and items that will help you to further that career choice!
Now let us examine Ute SuperCheats -- who was created from the start with a Law Enforcement Career in mind and specifically the new aspects of that old (original) Career Path -- the Intelligence/Spy path. For that reason her Traits and wish were tailored to fit that plan -- so she is a well-organized and logical person whose focus in the first week of game play was to improve both her Logic Skill and Charisma Skill.
A close examination of Ute reveals a Sim that was created to be both a Law Enforcement character and a character with the ability to move into related fields -- Military, Politics, and the like -- after she achieves success in her primary field! She was created with the following Traits and Lifetime Goal:
Lifetime Wish: International Super Spy (Reach Level 10 of the Law Enforcement Career, Special Agent Branch)
First Trait: Brave
Second Trait: Workaholic
Third Trait: Charismatic
Fourth Trait: Ambitious
Fifth Trait: Lucky
With these basic building blocks she began her primary career path by using the computer to select the Law Enforcement Career, and then working her way up from there, starting as a desk jockey, then working patrol, and the different positions leading up to Lieutenant, after which having fulfilled the base requirements, she was naturally offered the position of Special Agent, which upon acceptance started the whole begin-at-the-bottom process over again, with her reassignment to the Vice Squad! But that predictable path will lead to the conditions that are required to fulfill her Lifetime Wish, and eventually to attain Level 10 in Law Enforcement, after which she will decide upon her second career...
I have the time system for lifespan set pretty long, so it is easily possible for her to enjoy and retire from three or four careers before it is all said and done, and at the same time that means that her partner Karl can manage to level-up nearly all of the non-traditional professions -- if he wants to.
The family bookshelf may be the most important tool in your home
-- The Basic Building Blocks --
So you now should understand the criteria and the basic logic in how you build the family unit, and with the examples that I have provided for the pair of Sims who make up the family unit that I used in creating this guide, by applying the examples detailed here you can extrapolate out the necessary choices no matter which of the professions you decide to choose -- but remember that it is the actual process of creating the individual Sim that largely dictates how smoothly successful you will be. And that means fully understanding each of the Traits that you pick and what they can -- and cannot -- do for your Sim and, by extension, the family unit.
With all of that now addressed, it is time to delve into the elements that are considered when creating the individual Sims, and those begin with the next section -- Advanced Sim Creation!