Considering how important an element that the boat has become in the game, and particularly with respect to the social-networking side, it is a very good idea to take a closer look at it here to ensure that you not only have all of the information you need to use it effectively, but also the details that allow you to appreciate both what it is and what it can do for you and your Sims!
The Riverboat is your Passport to your Neighbor's Towns and Social Points.
The Party Boat Natchez
First we have decided in a largely arbitrary way (and on our own) that the "Party Boat" in The Sims FreePlay is actually named the S.S. Natchez IX
, so there!
Situated on the Town Map directly to the west (left) of the Car Dealership and Grocery Store at a semi-permanent "slip" in the form of a wood and concrete dock network whose goal is to provide very convenient access for your Sims.
The Party Boat is tied up with its bow facing north (towards the drawbridge) and its stern with its distinctive red paddle wheel facing south (towards the branch in the river down both paths of which are fixed bridges that cannot open.
Now that we have given the boat a formal name (S.S. Natchez IX
), we can begin to extrapolate its details and comforts - starting with its deck layout and amenities configuration, which suggest that it is based upon one of the most popular and successful "modern" stern-wheel configuration paddle boat / paddle steamer designs - specifically that of the original riverboat the S.S. Natchez
-- BCA 1823 at New York City's Consolidated Shipworks Yard (formerly the Market Street Shipworks of Samuel Akerly).
Designed and built as a two-and-a-half-deck steam-powered stern-wheel riverboat, the Natchez
was engineered for merchant, passenger, and freight services between the port cities of New Orleans and Natchez, Mississippi.
Her design is thought to have been loosely based upon the first two-deck side-wheel steamer that was purpose-built for the Mississippi River, the S.S. Washington
(BCA 1816 at George White's Shipyard in Wheeling, West Virginia).
Engineer and steam enthusiast Daniel French constructed the engine and drive train at his Monongahela and Ohio Steam Boat Company in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.
The emphasis in her design and configuration was firmly placed upon an efficient transfer of motive energy via the unique high-pressure, horizontally mounted engine, which turned a single stern paddle-wheel.
Among its notable features are its very low draft (Natchez
was designed to be navigable in less than four feet of water), a formal activities space on its top (or "half") deck that, when not in use for storage of lighter cargoes like cotton or broken bulk bagged and boxed freight, was used as a combination bandstand and dance floor.
Ordinarily the upper deck was reserved for passengers while the main deck was used for the boiler, increasing the space below the main deck for carrying cargo.
The modern design of the Party Boat in the game includes a small number of staterooms (passenger accommodations for overnight travel that largely resemble very small hotel rooms), a dining room with attached kitchen, as well as a bar, smoking room, and deck-side seating.
With a draft of 3 feet, the design was particularly effective on both the Mississippi River as well as the smaller and more challenging rivers that allowed for direct city-to-city river traffic between the Gulf of Mexico (via the Port City of New Orleans) and ports in Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
That was probably more than you ever wanted to know about the construction and the history of stern-wheel paddle-boat steamships, but on the bright side you learned some factoids and perhaps some trivia that will give you a major edge if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy and the subject is Mississippi River Boats. Hey, it could happen!
S.S. Natchez IX
The Party Boat is both a place where you connect with your friends (initially via Facebook) as an integral part of the new focus upon social networking and social gaming that has come to define the "Freemium" style of games on mobile platforms like iOS and Android.
Accessing the Party Boat requires a net connection, as it is one of the server-based elements in the game, as well as a Facebook account.
Acquiring Neighbors in the game is as simple as logging into your Facebook account, as the social interface that lays on top of the game will then seek out and add all of your mates on Facebook that also play The Sims: FreePlay for you.
If you feel you do not have a sufficient number of mates to have the ideal social-game-and-network experience, you are able to ask your Facebook mates to start playing the game and, when they do they will be added to your Neighbor List.
Benefits of The Party Boat
In addition to serving as the hub by which your FreePlay Neighbors can be found and enumerated - basically they are each "ranked" using the value of their Town as the criteria - it also serves as the gateway to visiting the towns of your mates and as a place to go once each day for some free gifts!
Once your town reaches a minimum of Level 10, you are then able to visit the towns of your Facebook / FreePlay Neighbors. Prior to your town reaching Level 10 the game will add your Neighbors but they exist only as a listing and leaderboard up to that point.
Regardless of the levels of your Town and your Neighbor Towns, the first time that you visit the Party Boat each day will result in the awarding of random prizes, the number of which are based upon how many Neighbors you have.
When you tap upon the Party Boat for the first time each day the game will automatically log into the online game servers at Origin/EA and check the status of your Neighbor's towns in order to determine their place in the list based upon town value, and will offer you the following free "gifts" as a result of tallying up the total number of mates you have:
- Gift 1: Requires 1 Neighbor + the default Example Town.
- Gift 2: Requires 2 Neighbors + the default Example Town.
- Gift 3: Requires 5 Neighbors + the default Example Town.
- Gift 4: Requires 8 Neighbors + the default Example Town.
- Gift 5: Requires 16 Neighbors + the default Example Town.
When you tap the medallion that represents each of these Gifts you will receive a random number of either Simoleons (the in-game money), Life Points (the first special type of in-game coin), or Social Points (the second unique type of in-game coin).
That being the case it is obviously a great idea to be sure that you pay the Party Boat a visit at least once each day even if you have no plans to visit a Neighbor's Town.
As long as you have connected your device to Facebook, any Facebook friends you have who already play FreePlay are automatically added as Neighbors; if that is not sufficient to unlock full access, you can invite your friends to play the game with you in order to increase your count.
After you collect your daily reward you are shown the Neighbor Town list, which is also the Leaderboard. Basically, the towns of your Neighbors are ranked by their town value, with the more valuable being higher up on the list.
In addition to revealing which of your neighbors have the more advanced towns (which usually means played longer) the rankings will also clue you in on which will likely have the more advanced structures, which can be important if you are looking for Community Lots you do not possess in order to work on their hobbies.
Visiting Your Neighbor's Towns
When your Town reaches Level 10 the simple list of Neighbor Towns in the Party Boat Menu will change to include a "Visit" button that allows you to have one of your Sims visit one of the Towns on your list.
You can only have one Sim visit one Town at a time, but the good news is that while there your Sim can do a lot of the things that you would do in your own Town, including building relationships with the Sims that live there (a quick and easy way to pick up extra XP).
Your Sim can use Community Buildings (including the special buildings that are associated with Hobbies - so if your Neighbor has built one of these you can use it to work on that Hobby for your Sim if you have not built that structure in your Town yet!).
Your Sim can visit the homes of the Sims who live in the Town, and can create social relationships with them.
Bearing in mind that a Sim visiting a Neighbor Town is still subject to the same basic stat reduction penalty (the need to eat, sleep, communicate, etc.) that they would face if they were still in their home town.
It is a good idea therefore to always have them doing something when they are visiting a Neighbor. The reason you should keep them occupied is, in addition to earning XP or even money, that while your Sim is engaged in any activity their stats do not degrade.
To better understand the whole issue with degrading stats please read the "Sim Stats 411
" page of this guide.
Notes, Tips, and Hints
The following factoids may be of use and interest to you:
When it was originally introduced in the game the Party Boat and the related Social Game elements were based upon the number of NBR you had (NBR means Neighbor Count). Even if your friends (NBR's) did not actually play the game, as long as they have downloaded a copy onto their compatible device they would count as an NBR for the purposes of adding them to your extended Sim World.
Claiming and using NBR/SP Items:
Originally the mechanism for obtaining and using NBR/SP items in the game was based upon the number of NBR you had. If the item - say a new and fancy three-star couch - required 3 NBR, as long as you had at least three or more Neighbors you could obtain the item from the in-game store FREE of charge.
NBR to SP Update:
After the initial trial period in which the NBR system was being evaluated, the negative opinions of gamers who felt that basing access to the new special social items on the number of real-world friends (NBR's) a player had was felt to be unduly harsh in that it basically required players to pester their real-world friends to download and play the game. The re-evaluation of that system resulted in the developers converting the NBR System to a Social Points credit-based system similar in structure to the Life Points System. This proved to be a very popular decision with players.
With the transition away from NBR and towards Social Points (SP) the developers ended up expanding the system that is used to acquire SP (not counting the direct purchase of SP using real-world money), embracing the Goals Subsystem by adding and massively expanding the second type of "Sim Goal" so that the Neighbor Towns ended up with their own popular Goal System.
SP System Expansion:
In addition to announced plans to add new buildings and activities that are based upon the Social Points / Social Network and Gaming subsystem, the Wizards behind TSFP opted to, in addition to adding direct action buildings such as the Nightclub, also added an interactive and level-based structure called the Competition Center (see the Competition Center Page in this guide for details).
More to come...
The introduction of the Party Boat was a major shift in emphasis for the development of The Sims FreePlay for reasons that may not be all that obvious at first glance.