Those darn teens! Always sneaking out in the middle of the night, whining about their homework, placing crank calls and getting busted–wait a minute, these aren’t my teens, I’m a total slave driver with my Sims. They get up, go to school, learn a few skills, go to bed (or just use the energizer to study through the nights if I’m really mean) and start the whole thing over the next day. If they’re good, they might get a date or two. Otherwise, *whipcrack*.
However, slave-driver though I am, I have come to a great and terrible realization: My teenagers, at least in relation to the rest of my game, make no sense.
I know what you’re thinking — what the hell is she talking about? How do teens not make sense? (Or, alternatively, when did teens ever make sense?) The problem stems from the length of the teen lifestage in relation to the other stages, and indeed to real life. If you assume that one Sim day equals one human year (my calculus), then the other stages make a certain amount of sense. If you age your babies up as soon as you get the “buy a b-day cake” pop-up like I do, then the toddler stage is the equivalent of ages 1-5, childhood 5-13, etc. And it makes sense — I mean, real fifty-four year olds might not be too keen on being elders in game, but it does make at least a little bit of sense.
And then you have the teen stage, that 15-day sore thumb sticking right in the middle of your Sim’s life.
This problem with realism wasn’t a problem for me until I started writing this blog (all of a week ago). And then I realized that the length of the teen stage, coupled with my Sim age/human age calculus, was going to bite me in the butt pretty soon.
For instance, what is the exact difference in age between Garnet and Lamorak? I can tell you what it is in my game: eleven Sim days. Eleven. That means eleven years in RL terms. No wonder Pellinore is freaking out about the age difference!
This also raises the spectre of potential creepiness in Lamorak and Garnet’s current relationship. She’s like, twelve, and he’s what–twenty-three? But wait! He hasn’t even been to college yet! And he’s twenty-three? *brain explodes*
In looking at my teens, though, I’m also finding lots of other lovely problems — like, the problems of age differences between siblings. Now, that problem is partially of my own creation. When I first made my RKC hood, I didn’t just create 10 random couples and have them procreate to make the different classes. I gave most families a kid or two to start things off. The oldest of my current crop of teens — meaning Gwendolyn de Ganis, William du Lac, Thomas & Jessica Pendragon, Lamorak Gwynedd, Danielle Ferreira (Merchant), Robert Wesleyan (Merchant), Simon Chevaux (Peasant) and Meg Pelles (Peasant) — all started off life as toddlers, so naturally there would be a bigger age difference between them and their siblings.
But with the other kids, I still have a problem, and that, my friends, is because of the three-day pregnancy period. Which also makes no sense if you think 1 day=1 year. I mean, a three-year pregnancy? EEK!
Let me give you an example of age distributions. I’ll use the de Ganises, since they only had Lynn (Gwendolyn) to start off with and started trying to make more babies right away. Between Lynn and Clarice there is a four-day age difference (not bad, considering she started as a toddler), between Clarice and Angelique there is another four-day age difference, and between Angelique and Elyan there is a three-day difference. Put it all together, though, and between Lynn and Elyan we’ve got another 11-day age difference. At this rate, Elyan’s nieces and nephews will be in grammar school before he gets to go to college.
Plus, the age spread makes no sense story-wise. Bors is not the kind of guy to let his wife rest up for 2-3 years in between births, not when he needs sons. I mean, yes, it’s perfectly possible that they could have been trying for those 2-3 years with nothing happening … but while that excuse might work for one family in the ‘hood, or even two … can you really stretch your credulity for Every. Freaking. Family? I know I can’t.
(It doesn’t help that Leona, Elyan’s wife-to-be, is six days older than he is — I can hear Bors screaming about wasted fertility already …)
So something has to change in order for my game to start making sense.
I could download a hack to make the lifestages more reasonable, but to be honest I’m a little afraid of that. First of all I have no idea what that kind of hack would do to the ages of my existing Sims, and secondly, the fifteen-day teen stage has its uses. For instance, it’s quite convenient for teens of the Peasant class, who can use it to work on badges like gardening and sewing (for girls) or toymaking (for boys). Plus Merchant boys and girls can log hours in their parents’ shops and get a good running start when they own their own businesses as adults. So, no hack.
Pondering the problem this morning, I hit upon — as I thought for about 10 seconds — a brilliant idea. “I know! I’ll make every day in the teen stage equal six months of human time! Then there will only be 7 1/2 teen years, which makes much more sense!”
Then I realized that that wouldn’t work, since everyone in the household would be aging with the teens, and while I know teens can give you grey hairs, it does seem a little bit unfair to Mom & Dad to have their adult “years” suddenly cut short. Not to mention the headaches that would result from younger sibs. The only way that idea would work would be if I had a houseful of teens …
But what if I did have a household of teens (with maybe one or two adults to keep things from getting too crazy)? In other words, what if I had–a boarding school?
It was brilliant! It was perfect! And I already had a template with my Magic Academy! All I’d have to do would be to tweak my playstyle a bit. I usually play by season (i.e. I play one house for the whole of Spring, then move onto the next, then cycle back when it’s time for everyone to have Summer). I can still do that, easy peasy, I’d just double the length of a season. It’s not like I don’t abuse the hell out of the seasonal adjuster anyway. So I’ll just build a boarding school or two and–
That, gentle readers, was when I ran into three problems.
The first was the simplest to solve — numbers. I’m sticking with game limitations here, 8 sims to a household. At the moment, I have a total of 23 playable teens in my game. That means 4 boarding schools (if one space is taken up by an adult) at the bare minimum. Ok, well, the Magic Academy counts for one, and I can easily build/download three more.
The next problem was gender — as in, this challenge is supposed to be based (loosely based, in my game) on medieval times and co-ed just plain wasn’t an option back then. Well, I was going to be making multiple schools anyway. I figured that the Magic Academy could get away with being co-ed, as it’s, well, magic, plus I can see the king wanting to keep the numbers of witches & wizards in his kingdom down.
The third problem is one I’m still struggling with — class.
First of all, there’s just no way that Peasants (or Gypsies, for that matter) would ever get into a boarding school. The best they could hope for, education-wise, was to take vows as a monk or a nun and poach off their automatic private school and career rewards. Well, ok, I decided, instead of sending them to boarding school, I’ll play them in their regular families for half of the teen stage (roughly) and then send them into service for a Noble or Merchant household. (Since Royalty are allowed to have robots, I doubt I’ll need servants in Royal households.) But — and this is the really brilliant part — instead of waiting for the next season, I’ll have them replay that same season. So that shaves five days off the teen stage right there. As for the rest of the time, I’ll continue to play them normally. They’ll age up a little “later” than their counterparts (I think — if I’m doing my math right), but I can make up for that with a) college, and b) routinely shaving a day off of each Peasant life stage (i.e. aging up as soon as the birthday cake pop-up comes up).
My math, in case ya’ll are interested:
Johnny Peasant and Eleanor Noble turn into teens on the same day, the second day of Spring. Eleanor is shipped off to boarding school on the first day of Summer, when she is 12 days away from Adult (well, 11 1/2 really, but you get the point). Johnny plays through a five-day Summer at the Peasant Farm.
On the first day of Fall at the farm, Johnny is shipped into service with the Noble Household — which, through the miracle of Sim-time, has just started the Summer. Johnny is at this point 7 (6 1/2) days away from Adult. He plays through Summer again, and the end of it he is 2 days away from Adult — just like Eleanor, who has finished the Summer at boarding school.
On the second day of Fall at the boarding school, Eleanor goes to college. However, because of the time difference, it’s really only the first day of Fall at her old household. Johnny ages on the real second day of Fall. By the time Eleanor returns from college, ready to receive her dowry and get married, Johnny will be 3 days into his Adult stage — already married, perhaps, and maybe with a kid on the way.
I hope that makes sense. It does to me. But if it doesn’t to anyone else, please let me know, because that means I probably screwed up math somewhere.
Ok, moving on. I’ll skip to the Nobles & Royals because frankly, they’re easy. I’ll just set up a girls’ boarding school (really a fancy-pants skirts finishing school, and I’ve already got just the Sim to run it, too bad it’ll be a while before she’s in a position to do so) and a knights’ training facility for the boys. (Yes, Leiela, I am stealing your idea, hope you don’t mind!!) Heck, I won’t even have to set that up, since I already have a nifty barracks set up as an apartment lot — with nobody moved in yet. All I have to do is alter one apartment and voila! Instant knights’ training!
(Coincidentally, I also have a regular soldiers’ quarters set up on that same lot. I can send some Peasant boys here if other places get too crowded, or if the Sim just seems like the type to join the military.)
Lastly, I’ve got the Merchants. And they are giving me trouble, let me tell you. The Magic Academy will take some of them (and some of the Nobles/Royals too), but there’s no way the Magic Academy can fit them all — and I don’t even think I’d want it to if it could. That being said, I have a couple of ideas:
1) Set up a Guild Hall boarding school for Merchant boys. I have no idea what the equivalent for girls would be — perhaps a slightly less expensive boarding school, with different focuses? Say, where the Noble/Royal finishing school has a lot of emphasis on music, dance, painting, and maybe even sewing, the Merchant one definitely does sewing, along with flower-arranging and pottery, perhaps. The Guild Hall would have a community lot business or two to help the boys learn sales, cash registering, and restocking, maybe toy-making. Alternatively, I could download the Vocational Training Controller from SimWardrobe and have them learn their badges that way. (Might need to use boolprop to get my Guild Hall teacher enough badges to teach the kids, but, meh, I’ve cheated before and will again, I’m sure.)
2) Apprenticeships. In other words, like the Peasants, I’ll play a Merchant teen for a season in his/her original household, then send him/her to another household to repeat the season. If they’re going to college, I’ll send them a few days early so they arrive at the same time as the Noble/Royal students who were born the same day as they were (or the day before). If not, I’ll try to cake them a day early.
3) Just ship ’em to college early. It’s the simplest solution, but requires all Merchants to attend college — something I’m not 100% sure I want. Plus it, you know, cuts their teen stage in half.
Well, phew. I think that’s enough for now. I’ve certainly got stuff to think about.
If you have ideas, or just want to tell me I’m nuts, PLEASE, PLEASE comment. I can use all the help I can get here.
Until next time — when you get to meet THE PENDRAGONS — adios!
PS: For those who stuck with me this far, a funny pic.
Will: Congratulations on being smokin’ hot, Jess!
Princess Jessica: Why gee, honey, thanks!