Random Musings, or, Trouble With Teens

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!

Happy Simming!


10 thoughts on “Random Musings, or, Trouble With Teens

  1. The age’s element of the game was always the part which baffled annoyed me, which is why i now play with aging off and i manually “grow up” my sims based on thier ages as i record them and i play based on that.

    baby to toddler – age 1.
    to child – 4
    to teen – 12
    young adult (if going to uni (15-18 depending as my young adults go to uni in batches)
    Adults – 18
    Elders at 50 (not bad concidering the life expecancy was only 35 at the time)

  2. quote: (not bad considering the life expectancy was only 35 at the time)

    And THAT is why I think marriage vows included “Until death do us part” … not hard vow to keep if chances are one or both of you won’t make it to 40!

    Ahem, but returning to the topic at hand … I’ve looked at your way and it makes a lot of sense, the problem is it takes waaay too long for me just to play a round of five days (standard season length) … if I had to play a family for 20 days before moving onto the next, I think I’d go nuts.

    That and, for me, 15-day pregnancy = many many pregnant sims starved to death. 😦

    But thank you for the comment!! 😀

  3. haha i wouldn’t suggest anyone do it my way haha i think im alittle nut’s i mean my last round took 7 months to play.

    what about playing a 4 day round? or 1 season as a round (5 days by default i think)

    Having that (4/5 day season) be 1 year and ageing up you sims manualy it would still drag out some of your lifestages i know child seems to be a long one this way. But it would also have the benifit of making the 3 day pregnancy more realistic.

  4. Hmmm … that is most certainly an idea … hmmm.

    I shall most certainly have to think about it. It would definitely add some realism and would make writing this blog a bit easier — Sims won’t be growing up so fast that I’ll find it hard to keep up. And there’s nothing that says I can’t have a knights’ barracks or a finishing school, or a magic academy.

    I think, for now, I’ll stick with the system I have … but if it gets too unwieldly, I might just have to do manual aging, like you suggested. 🙂 Thank you!

  5. Pingback: I Know It’s a Dangerous Pastime, But … « The Chronicles of Albion

  6. Im with Katherine, I play with aging off and age them manualy based off the age as i record them in the book of death.

    toddler – 1
    to child – 4
    Boys teen – 12
    Girls Independent Teen – 12 (that way girls don’t have to go to school after 12)
    None Uni Going Boy’s – Independent Teen at 15.
    Girls in boarding school also stay teen till 15.
    Young Adults as soon as they go to uni (15-18ish)
    Adults – 18 (Or on returning from uni)
    Elders at 50

  7. OMG i’m such a lemon. No wonder Katherines way of doing things sounds just like mine… Katherine is ME! DOH.

    Now the real question is ?? im i totally nuts??

    No.. not that question the other question. How the hell did i end up on such an old post i wanted to read the current stuff! ARGH!

  8. I’m taking a wild guess that since you wrote this in 2009 you’ve already resolved this. Nonetheless, I will bore you with my exceedingly long comment.

    Instead of playing rounds for a set amount of time every time, I play until the day of the week and time of day (not the hour, just morning, evening, etc.) that I finished the King’s lot. So one time I might play 3 days, another only one. If I’m actively writing a story there are things that effect this. Like if a sim is pregnant, I often stop so she will be one stage of pregnancy for a round – so often a day at a time. But if a baby is going to grow up to be a toddler, I’ll play that lot until the birthday party the next day is done – because I won’t remember and don’t want to write it down. I continue the rest of the round the same. Let’s say if I’m ending the round on Tuesday night. Then one house due to baby party ends on Wednesday night. I’ll plan to make the next round end on Tuesday night or later.

    When writing sim stories I found it easier to not give exact ages. Also sometimes I decide that time has just passed by when the aging process seems to call for it.

    The way I figure it the teens rather than being 13 to 18 can be more like preteens to mid twenties. But again I purposely don’t reveal their exact ages. I bet medieval types didn’t bother to keep track. They often had no idea what calender year it is

    I use inteen. (And inge’s polygamy wedding arch. Not for polygamy, but because it gives the option of arranged marriages – they can be enemies and still marry if you wish.) Arranged marriages happen as soon as both sims graduate from college, or in the case of peasants and sims that can’t go to college due to bad grades, as soon as they are both teens. Since college makes a sim life longer, this makes the peasants seem to age faster. This works out since all that hard work would surely age you faster. And the rare peasant who goes to college lives longer due to having things a little easier for themselves. Upper class who don’t go to college were either really older or perhaps age faster due to marrying so young or being vexed that they couldn’t attend college. (Which I may pretend is for another reason than grades if it suits my story.)

    Sometimes I may send a sim off to college early. In this case being sent to school so young aged them somehow.

    So those are the ideas behind some of the aging, but I may or may not mention it in story. By not revealing exact ages I have more flexibility.

    And another thing that might be far less of a pain for you. Simblender – like insimenator only it’s the latest version, works with all expansion and stuff pack, and best of all it’s a cheat object, not a global mod – available at insimenator.org. One of the options is to age an individual sim 3 days older or younger. You can also change the age of the sim to any life stage except baby. Yes you can turn your toddler to elder, then back to toddler.

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