The effect of the two expansions is actually very easy to understand in the abstract when we examine each of the expansions for its base effects. Before we do that though, we need to examine and acclimate ourselves to the simple reality that Death has now become an element of the game.
Sim Life Spans
Despite the potentially negative impact that these changes may have on your game and your Sim community, the good news is that they are not entirely beyond your control - the bad news is that if you fail to plan ahead for the different end--of-life events you can easily sacrifice capabilities, skills, and abilities within your Sim community!
This does not have to be an overly complicated issue - and it won't be if you build the image of its linear function in your mind as a process. Just remember that the Birth-Life-Death process does NOT engage until you have completed all of the related Missions/Quests and actually enabled it. Until that time, your town will still be an entropy-free and stagnant environment.
Starting with the most basic premise, there are now six well-defined stages in the life of a Sim that were introduced as a combination of the various content expansions over the course of the past year. The following information applies under the assumption that you have fully completed the transition to a world that includes death.
The six defined stages of life for your Sim are:
- Infant - This Sim is entirely helpless and resides in the cradle.
- Toddler - This Sim is partly helpless and needs constant care from an Adult Sim.
- Preteen - This Sim is partly autonomous but requires Adult supervision.
- Teen - This Sim enjoys nearly all of the benefits of the Adult phase.
- Adult - This Sim is fully autonomous and has access to all of the life choices.
- Senior - This Sim is retired. They can have a hobby but not a job.
For future reference the number scheme above is considered the Life Stage and we will use that number for shorthand reference to each stage. To reinforce that idea all references to life stages from here on include the number assigned to that stage.
Each of these stages has a finite amount of real-time available to it:
- Infant - 24 Hours (or 1 Day)
- Toddler - 72 Hours (or 3 Days)
- Preteen - 120 Hours (or 5 Days)
- Teenager - 168 Hours (or 7 Days)
- Adult - 432 Hours (or 18 Days)
- Senior - 240 Hours (or 10 Days)
The real-world time elapsed applies only to active use of the Sim - that is to say that an idle Sim is not using time from their finite allotment for their current stage but, when they are doing a job, hobby, or task they are. With that in mind you may want to use care when opting to complete longer actions since they do reduce the available time for that Sim stage.
Pausing or Suspending the Aging Process
It is possible to pause or even suspend the aging process but doing so is incredibly expensive in terms of time and effort for several reasons. Basically there are two methods for suspending aging:
If you do nothing - no tasks, not job, not hobby - in other words DO NOTHING - your Sim will not age. Of course they will also not improve in life, earn money, or basically live their life.
2. Use Orbs.
The second means for suspending aging is to spend Life Orbs - each Orb level will have a different impact and provide a different number of extra days, with Bronze being the shortest, Silver medium, and Gold longest as far as the delay timers go.
Using a Platinum Orb will permanently suspend aging for your Sim, but at a cost so severe that you will have to seriously want that Sim to be Lazarus enough to sacrifice the entire Life Accomplishments of three other Sims!
The Value of Life and Living
The introduction of the life span in FreePlay has had profound impact upon the player base - or at least upon the players who fully grok what it means and the effects it has on their Sims, their town, and Sim Society.
Creating a finite lifespan has the effect of making FreePlay more real in terms of time and gives a much more intimate meaning to time and actions. It forever alters the tactics that you employ in your game play and some will say to the negative.
While it is clear that at least past of the goal on the part of the Wizards who make the game was to create a world in which life is celebrated and the aged are revered, I fear that the flaws in the system as it exists now will have the opposite effect.
Rather than making the Seniors into Sims who are valued for who they are they will instead be valued for what they know and have accomplished and their potential to contribute to the future generations.
What is worse is that the Sims who failed to live complete lives - who did not fill their Goal and Dream Meters - will turn out to be far more valuable than those Sims who did, because the Sims with full Meters are prime candidates for sacrificing so that their death will result in spawning a Life Orb that has real value and use to the player.
The Sims who are basically failures will be sentenced to long and boring lives thanks to the hobby or skills that they have mastered, being held in reserve for the rare instances in the future where that Skill is required!
Thoughts on Aging
For example prior to the introduction of life spans players thought nothing of having a Sim repeat the same hobby over and over again, in order to complete the hobby collection and thus farm LP.
After the life span using a Sim in that fashion is not just monstrous, it is the sort of influence that represents the very worse aspects attributed to an evil God - capriciously throwing away the life of a being for goals and ends that are clearly meant to be used to the profit and benefit of others - most of whom are not even alive when the Sim makes their sacrifice!
Careers will take on a very different aspect in the game as Sims will rarely be sent to work. After all, why dispatch a Sim to a job that will burn away 8 hours of their life when you can keep them home and accomplish the same level of work experience in 3 hours practicing on the career-object in the home?
Then there is the issue of skill and knowledge loss. It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to master the Fishing Hobby, and most Simmers only have ONE Sim who has done so.
That being the case they will want to jealously guard the life of that Sim so that, down the road when a special event takes place that requires an advanced fish to be caught as one of the stages in the quest or mission, they will have the necessary skill in their community - but ONLY if they take care to ensure it!
This applies to all of the skills that exist in the game, and it is not unlikely therefore that most Simmers will, as their games progress, establish a neighborhood enclave in which virtually all of the residents are Seniors who have mastered a specific hobby or skill and who do nothing but laze about all day doing, well, nothing!
That pointless existence happens because the Simmer is conserving their timer to be used in the future when those skills are required for missions and quests. While it is a sad end for a wonderful Senior Sim, I fear that it will be all too common and all too necessary thanks to the manner in which the aging system was introduced and the lack of any useful means to determine how much time is left to a specific Sim!
Then there is the question of Drones...
A Drone in terms of the game as it now exists is a Sim whose life was not created to be lived by them, but rather to serve the common community. History is packed with this sort of situation - they did not call them "drones" though, they are called "slaves" in the history books, and they were not all people of color. Every race at some time - and every religion - has found itself enslaved.
In our Sim world that slavery will take the form of Sims who are born with a destiny - a Sim who will do ONE thing and ONE thing only - once they reach the life stage in which their hobby can be worked, that will be their lot in life.
A Sim conceived and created to Hunt Ghosts will do nothing but Hunt Ghosts, their function being to complete the Ghost Hunting Collections in order to serve as a conduit for Life Points (LP) to be used by the privileged Sims who live in Island Estates, while the drones live in the ghettos on the mainland!
The Middle Ages: A New Class of Sim
Once the new finite lifespan makes its full effects felt in the game we will see what I can only describe as a throwback to the Middle Ages - a dark period in human history!
You will be able to tell at a glance what the social standing of a Sim is - those Sims who are members of the aristocracy will have addresses on Mystery Island, living on estates or fancy houseboats, with hobbies that suggest excitement and leisure, spending their recreational time diving, surfing, and playing with expensive genetically designed pets or robot companions.
The drones, servants, and slaves are instantly identified just by their names! How difficult will you find it to figure out what the occupation is of a Sim named Dave "Fisher" or Emmy "Skates" do you think? Surnames like Fisher (Fisherman), Skates (Ice Skater), Hunter (Ghost Hunter), Clips (Fashion Designer), Chips (Woodworker), and Splash (Diver), are pretty obvious, and just the sort of pattern we found in the Dark Ages of human history!
This is no exaggeration - it is the natural evolution and the economic reality that the new system will foment. I know this because I am a student of history, having studied that and philosophy as part of the scheme put in place at my university to help graduate students in the engineering programs to obtain a more rounded and socially valuable education.
History repeats itself - so I have to wonder if these notions were in the back of the mind when the Wizards who are responsible for this game chose this path? It certainly makes for an interesting experiment.
The children of privilege will indulge in music careers, playing three-star instruments, party at the nightclub and spend their days on the beach surfing, while the children of service spend their days at school preparing for the day that will come sooner than desired when they will begin to serve, generating the Life Points, Social Points, Simoleons, and Keys that will be the virtual property of their masters!
I fear that the changes that they have made to the game will so completely alter the manner in which it is being played so that The Sims: FreePlay very little resembles the game that it was yesterday.
I am fearful that this progress is not actually progress at all...
The introduction of the Family Tree and the Life Dreams & Legacy Expansions changed the very nature of the game - and for many players it did so in a way that they realize looking back and with hindsight is not good.