Practical Starting Strategies
The focus of Late Night is divided between nighttime recreation, entertainment, and leisure activities, and a surprise -- but light -- supernatural element to the expansion that provides a bit of zesty flavor to this otherwise predictable expansion. I say "predictable" simply because with this being the third major revision of the well-established series, gamers who are familiar with the original series content and the second revision should already have a pretty solid notion about what is outstanding in the third series of base game expansions (not factoring in the new stuff of course). But hey, it is all good, really!
It is fair to describe this expansion as being primarily focused upon evening entertainment, but in keeping with the series traditions there are also some additional adventures, some additions to the collecting, mystery, self-improvement, and crafting contents, as well as all new content to be sure. Oddly enough the focus upon liesure activities presents the same basic set of issues that the first expansion -- World Adventures -- did, and that is the content encourages the player to focus away from the usually disciplined play style that is required to make a success of your Sims pushing players toward a much less responsible style of play due to choices like not getting enough sleep and over-indulging in the various fun-side aspects of the game...
In the end the only Sims who will truly reap the benefits of this new expansion are Sims who are independently wealthy having inherited their wealth and thus, also the free time in which to spend it. For working stiff Sims the contents of Late Night will be taken as luxuries, over a longer period of time, and even then it is unlikely that the average working Sim will have the opportunity to enjoy every aspect of the expansion.
The ideal situation is, of course, an independently wealthy Sim who can live the life that they want to live, but that is really only possible in a handful of ways -- legitimately by your Sim being the 4th or 5th generation and has inherited their wealth (which requires quite a bit of play time but is not impossible) -- and illegitimately you could cheat... But there is another way, a sort of Bohemian-meets-slacker alternative lifestyle that is perfectly suited to this particular expansion -- and that is the artistic route!
Developing Painting is a fast track to income
That can include -- thanks to the Ambitions expansion -- the lucrative benefits from the skills of architecture, artistry (painting and sculptures), collecting, fishing, gardening, ghost busting, hacking, musical entertainment, photography, styling, and writing just to name a few -- but essentially any activity that allows your Sim to make money outside of the normal career grind, allowing them the freedom to set their own working hours, and earn (or not earn) as it appeals to them.
There is a downside to that path, of course, and that is the fact that income is not predictable -- your Sim starts out earning only modest amounts for their work, but on the other hand if you have just created the Sim and moved them into a starter house, their overhead costs are low enough so that you can not only survive while building up their support and non-traditional skills, but maybe even get a little ahead as well... And it is even easier when you create a household of two or more adult Sims -- whether that is a couple or simply roommates -- who can divide up the basic chores.
As a general rule we use the group of two in a household, and they compliment each other skill-wise -- for example one focuses upon learning to cook, while the other focuses upon learning to maintain and repair the household items. When goals are offered care should be taken to pick goals you will naturally work towards or that make sense for your Sim to be working towards based upon their chosen career and lifetime goal -- because banking Lifetime Happiness Points is an important element of gaining better progress later, since you can purchase special abilities which reduce costs and overhead for a variety of areas in the game as well as many other useful skill-altering abilities!
When creating your Sim's alternative careers, it is a good idea to have them do different things -- an Artist and a Musician in the same house is complimentary but more important does not require duplication of kit. It is also a good idea to give them more than one potential money-making skill, for instance an Artist can also be a Photographer, a Musician also Writer...
While one of the pair covers the daily grind, makes meals, pays bills, fixes what needs fixing, the other focuses solely upon their primary skill, the idea being to get it mastered as quickly as you can because that is the fastest route to reliable income. After the first has mastered theirs, they switch roles and the second half of the pair masters their primary skill, then you do the same for the secondary, and with all four skills mastered, your money problems are now over, and you can focus upon improving their home, traveling, and having adventures!
Leveling Skills using Books is the fastest method to do it
-- Secondary Focuses --
In addition to your focus upon completing leveling their primary and secondary creative skills, you will also want to try to complete as many of the goals and challenges, and the opportunities, that your Sim receives, in order to build a nest egg of Lifetime Reward Points, so that you can obtain a few of the special abilities that can only be had in that way. Ideally you want to focus upon accepting only the sort of goals and challenges that further the lifestyle and ability set you have already chosen for each of your Sims -- that way you are not constantly doing things that do not contribute to your over-all goals.
Some of the goals and objectives that you will receive are only slightly related to your primary strategy, but because they improve your Sim overall, they are still worth developing because they not only improve your Sim but also present opportunities for you to multi-task on the sort of activities that you have to do anyway.
For example buying and placing a Chess Board and a couple of chairs in your home is a small investment in acquiring the intelligence skills, which while this is not obvious actually has an impact on how fast your Sims can acquire some of the other skills in the game! When using the Chess Board NEVER simply practice -- always have one of your Sims play with the other, since that gives THREE gains -- Logic, Fun, and Social -- rather than just Logic -- and in fact that is the main reason why you would choose the Chess Board over the Logic Books for acquiring the skill!
Some of the skills are important for both Sims to learn -- cooking is one -- while you can easily get away with having a dedicated repairing Sim.
-- Skill and Reward Overlapping --
At some point in the development of your Sim-Unit (whether that is a family or just roommates, or something more) there will come a point at which skills and rewards overlap. Your Sims cannot exist together without each taking an interest in the interests of the others -- so you should naturally expect that at some point, even in a household in which the responsibilities and abilities are clearly divided along logical lines, that your Sims will begin exploring the areas of specialty of each other.
-- A Health Skills Viewpoint --
It may not appear obvious at first but the time and effort that your Sims spend in development of their skills is almost like time placed in the bank, as it not only pays dividends in their day-to-day life, but it also plays into any future jobs and careers that they may start and work within. The following skills can be acquired and leveled in the game through the use of the related action, through reading books about them, or through attending classes on the specific skill. In addition to those three core learning elements you can also have a Sim who has mastered some of the skills train and instruct newbie Sims in that skill!
The following skills can be acquired in the game and are represented on the Skills menu for each of your Sims:
-- Athletic: Leveled through various exercise activities including weight lifting and jogging.
-- Bass: Leveled by playing the Bass in a variety of manners and settings.
-- Charisma: Leveled by practicing Speech and using the skill in conversations with other Sims.
-- Cooking: Leveled by cooking, reading cooking books, and watching the Cooking Channel on TV.
-- Drums: Leveled by playing the Drums in a variety of manners and settings.
-- Fishing: Leveled by fishing, reading fishing books, and researching baits.
-- Guitar Leveled by playing the Guitar in a variety of manners and settings.
-- Handiness: Leveled by repairing and tinkering with devices in the home.
-- Logic: Leveled by playing Chess, reading, and solving math problems online.
-- Painting: Leveled by painting.
-- Piano: Leveled by playing the Piano in a variety of manners and settings.
-- Writing: Leveled by practicing the craft and by writing books.
As a general rule each new skill starts out at Level 0, and upon reaching and unlocking Level 1 is added to the Skills Menu on each of your Sims individually. Each skill is upgradable to Level 10, which is the "Mastery" Level, and each of the Levels between 1 and 10 have different benefits and/or abilities associated with them. Many of the Skills in the game apply directly to the different careers and professions, and leveling them is required in order to gain ranks in your job.
In addition to earning quick money Painting leads to Fame
Bearing in mind that each career/profession/job has a predictable and unchanging set of Skill requirements associated with it, the player can easily predict which skills will be more important to them, and work on them prior to beginning the career or profession so as to obtain a headstart. Since skill levels in the game do not degrade through lack of use, any efforts that are made by your Sims in the acquisition of Skills is generally considered to be a positive effort.
Skills and Sim Fame and Celebrity: Certain of the Skills in the game have been co-opted into the Fame and Celebrity system in two distinct ways: establishing Fame and leveling Fame and Celebrity. The most notable of these are the artistic skills, which includes Painting, Sculpting, Writing, and Cooking, all of which at the higher levels serve as a springboard to establishing that all-important first Star/Level of Celebrity and Fame.
Once your Sim has started the trek towards Celebrity most of the secondary skills can be used through random opportunities to increase their Fame Level -- for example cooking a particular dish and delivering it to a famous Sim is one example, as is using a secondary skill for a specified amount of time, a good example being the Athletic Skill, which has a random opportunity in which your Sim can gain Fame points by exercising for a total of four hours.
In view of the well-documented difficulties that arise when your Sim has reached Fame/Celebrity Level four of the five levels, being able to make use of your mastered skills to improve your Sims Fame Levels is something of a Godsend, especially when the only alternative appears to be developing and maintaining friendships, which are adversely impacted by the death of famous Sims and those around them. Never underestimate the value of a well developed and mastered skill!
Check out the junkyard for items you can salvage, repair and sell!
-- The Game Play Model for this Guide --
It is an established tradition when writing the guide for a new expansion in the series that I always start out with a brand new family in order to ensure that all of the low-level play aspects are absorbed in the guide play-through process. It is OK if you are a long-time Simmer and already have a well-heeled family to play with, since this all applies to you either way, but if you are just starting out or if this is your introduction to the series, by using this approach it guarantees maximum applicability of style, tips, and tricks, and how cool is that?
The household that was created for World Adventures was made up of yuppie adventurers Tomos SuperCheats and his girlfriend Katya, while the family for Ambitions consisted of Markus SuperCheats, his sister and girlfriend/wife. This time around for Late Night the family that was created is another distant pair of cousins -- Kyle and Marie SuperCheats of the ancient and honorable Highland clan of the SuperCheats -- note that while Kyle and Marie are not married and they are technically related they are in fact fourth cousins twice removed, so if something should happen well, they are not breaking either the law or customs of the Sims!
Fishing can be lucrative if you have the patience
As is usually the case with a new expansion, Late Night introduced a new town to the games -- an old industrial enclave called Bridgeport -- but for this play-through I decided to stay with Twinbrooks from Ambitions simply because I liked the ambiance more... YMMV and there really are no "wrong" choices, so go with what you like!
For this guide Kyle began as an artist/painter (this was a purely Bohemian household with no plans for traditional employment or early procreation at first) while Marie began as an artist/sculptor. Their support duties were equally split, with Kyle concentrating upon cooking while Marie did maintenance and repairing, and both pursued the logic skill. They each focused upon their primary "jobs" but, at some point past mastery of those, they both showed prolonged and determined interest in pursuing the "jobs" of the other! That trend has been observed in other family/group units in the other expansions, so it is not unusual to the game.
The wisdom of beginning with a couple in the same house, each of whom is pursuing a non-traditional source of income/profession should be obvious on the face of it as a sound strategy, and you will likely find that beginning your first play-through of the game in that fashion will allow you to enjoy it to its maximum potential! Feel free to join me in this Bohemian existence mates!