How I Play The Sims 4 Rotationally

I’ve received many questions on my Youtube videos and live streams about how I play The Sims 4 rotationally. In this post, I’m going to outline my entire process step-by-step. Hopefully, it will inspire you to get more out of your own personal gameplay. 

I also made a video on this topic if you prefer to watch/listen instead. You can watch it below, or keep reading for all the details.

Tracking Spreadsheet

Similarly to my Sims 2 tracking spreadsheets, I also keep spreadsheets in The Sims 4. When playing rotationally, a spreadsheet helps me keep track of all the Sims in my worlds, their partners, their careers, their aspirations, and any other information I need. 

It helps me plan my game by allowing me to see all my Sims at a glance, decide who might be a good match for each other, and just keep my population organized. 

Sims 4 Tracking Spreadsheet
Preview of my Sims 4 Tracking Spreadsheet (Click for larger view.)

Of course, it isn’t necessary to keep a tracking spreadsheet to play The Sims 4 rotationally. You can play without tracking at all, or keep a much simpler system (like a piece of paper with family names that you check off – or even a notepad on your phone).

This is just my preferred way to track my Sims because I enjoy spreadsheets and data. If you don’t, you shouldn’t let that stop you from playing this way! Just find a way that works best for you and that you enjoy. 

Tracking Categories

These are the things I keep track of for each Sim on my spreadsheet:

  • Rotation 
  • Household 
  • First & Last names
  • Role in the household
  • Age
  • Aspiration
  • Traits
  • Likes & Dislikes
  • Career
  • Partner
  • Notes

I also color code my spreadsheet so that I can see at a glance how many Sims of each age group currently do not have partners. This helps me with planning marriages and partnerships.

Download Spreadsheet

If you want to use my spreadsheet (includes color legend), you can download it for yourself below. Note: I use Open Office (which is free), but you can also open it with Microsoft Word. 

  • Download empty spreadsheet with headings but no Sim information (SFS / Mediafire)
  • Download spreadsheet with base game Sim info filled in (SFS / Mediafire)

The base game spreadsheet includes tabs for Willow Creek and Oasis Springs, with all the starting Sims’ information filled in and color coded. You can use it as a guide and/or modify for your own game however you want. 

Preparing Worlds

Once I get my spreadsheet set up, my next step is preparing my worlds. When I play The Sims 4 rotationally, I choose one or two worlds to focus on. When I play the base game, I play both Willow Creek AND Oasis Springs for a total of 8 starting households.

When I play a larger world like Windenberg or my own custom save file, I will stick with one world to start. I don’t mind moving my Sims to other worlds later, but I like to start small. I find starting with ~8 household is about right. 

Sims 4 Manage Worlds
I delete all families that I don’t want to play in Manage Worlds.

To prepare, I delete ALL families from the Manage World screen that I don’t want to play with. If I’m playing base game families only, for example, all the Sims from Windenberg, Brindleton Bay, etc. are deleted. 

Dealing with Townies

I prefer to make my own townies or add the Maxis Sims (Babs L’Amour, June Kay, Steve Fogel, etc.) from the gallery as townies. I DESPISE the randomly created hideous monstrosities that generate in The Sims 4

NOTE: When I use the word “townie” on this website, I am referring to the wandering homeless Sims that do not live in houses (not premades created by Maxis that live in homes). It will say “Not Currently in World” under their picture in the Manage Households screen.

While preparing my worlds, I delete any townies that might have spawned and add my own to the world. To add your own townies, simply create them in CAS, then “Cancel Moving” on the Manage Worlds screen. They will then become townies. 

Sims 4 Cancel Moving to Make Townies
Just click “Cancel Moving” to make the Sim a townie.

If this is the first Sim you’ve created in a new save, you won’t be able to cancel moving. You’ll have to move them into their own vacant lot, then return to Manage Worlds and “Evict” them.

How to Stop Townies from Generating

I know what you’re thinking. Why bother adding my own townies if the game just keeps generating more of those hobgoblins? Well, there’s a solution I use – but it’s not free.

I use the NPC Control Mod by Paulson. The only catch is you have to pay $3 to his Patreon for updates. In my opinion, it’s the best $3 I’ve ever spent on this game. Period. There is a public free version, but it doesn’t work. If you can afford it, I recommend paying the $3 for the updated one.

If you can’t afford it (or just don’t want to pay for it), my only suggestion is to periodically delete the random townies or just deal with them being in your game. I know of no other solution that stops them from generating besides this mod.  (If you do, please comment below!)

NPC Control Settings

If you do opt to pay for the updated NPC Control Mod, it has many different settings and customizations. But to stop townies from generating, make sure you do the following:

  • Click on any Sim in your game and choose “NPCC,” then select “Settings.”
  • Under “Sim Settings” make sure to click “Do Not Generate New Sims.”

Here are the screenshots of my settings as of December 2021 to give you an idea of how I set mine up. This mod is useful for SO MANY things besides just preventing townies. You can use it to select exactly the Sims you want for specific NPC roles (maid, bartender, etc.)

Sims 4 NPCC Settings
My NPCC Sims Settings

Note: If you don’t have enough townies in your game to fill roles such as doctors, coworkers, bartenders, etc. your game will not create any. This can be really annoying when you need a doctor or a coworker to perform a task. If this happens, you’ll have to create or add more townies the game can use (or deal with it). 

Gameplay Options

Now, I make a few changes in the Gameplay Options that help when you play The Sims 4 rotationally. 

  • Auto Age (Played Sims) – Only Active Household
  • Auto Age (Unplayed Sims) – Unchecked
  • Fill Empty Homes – Unchecked
Sims 4 Gameplay Options Rotations
My Gameplay options for playing rotationally.

You only want your current active household aging, so you don’t miss out on any of your Sims’ lives. This is part of rotational gameplay. I don’t let my townies age either because I prefer to age them up only when I choose. 

If you do want your townies to age along with your played families, CHECK the box next to Auto Age (Unplayed Sims) only one week out of each rotation. Do not keep it checked the entire time you play or your townies will age like 8x faster than your played families. 

Setting Up Households

Next, I set up my individual households to get them ready to play. There are a few housekeeping steps I need to do including setting up utilities and bank accounts, giving my Sims University degrees (when applicable), choosing reward traits and selecting aspirations. 

Utilities

I use a mod called SNB Bills, which makes utilities and bills more realistic. Sims must have their utilities turned on by paying a deposit – and you can choose them individually.

For example, a poor family may not be able to afford cable or internet, while a wealthy family can get premium cable and fast internet. I choose which utilities to turn on based on the wealth of the family.

Sims 4 SNB Bills Utilities
Choose a utility package your Sims can afford.

Poor families only get the basic utilities (water, power, trash, cell phone), while wealthy families get the premium home package. In situations where my Sims are VERY poor, I customize home services with priority on water and power. 

Bank Accounts

After setting up utilities, I then set up bank accounts for each of my Sims (if needed). In a household of roomates, everyone gets their own bank account and their paycheck is directly deposited to their personal account.

If the family is a couple or single person, I usually don’t set up a bank account for them unless I want a way for them to save money for a large purchase – like a new house. 

Sims 4 SNB Bank Accounts
Enable direct deposit for Sims who want to keep finances separate.

I use the SNB Banking mod (which works together with SNB Bills discussed above) to manage bank accounts and direct deposit for my Sims. 

College Degrees

I also cheat to give my Sims college degrees for the first generation of a new save file. Sims in households like The Goths and The BFFs would most likely already have degrees, so I don’t feel bad about cheating them.

I use the Career Overhaul mod so that degrees are required for Sims to reach the tops of their careers. I choose the degree to give a Sim based on the documentation from this mod that states which degree is needed for which career. 

University Degree Cheats

Here are the University Degree cheats I use to give my Sims degrees. I do not give them honors, only the appropriate regular bachelor of arts or science in their field. If you want your Sim to have an honors degree, just add the word “Honors” to the very end of the code (no spaces).

Degree Cheat Code
Art History traits.equip_trait trait_University_ArtHistoryDegreeBA
Biology traits.equip_trait trait_University_BiologyDegreeBS
Communications traits.equip_trait trait_University_CommunicationsDegreeBA
Computer Science traits.equip_trait trait_University_ComputerScienceDegreeBS
Culinary Arts traits.equip_trait trait_University_CulinaryArtsDegreeBA
Drama traits.equip_trait trait_University_DramaDegreeBA
Economics traits.equip_trait trait_University_EconomicsDegreeBS
Fine Art traits.equip_trait trait_University_FineArtDegreeBA
History traits.equip_trait trait_University_HistoryDegreeBA
Language & Literature traits.equip_trait trait_University_LanguageAndLiteratureDegreeBA
Physics traits.equip_trait trait_University_PhysicsDegreeBS
Psychology traits.equip_trait trait_University_PsychologyDegreeBS
Villainy traits.equip_trait trait_University_VillainyDegreeBS

Reward Traits

I use the Personality Mod to give my Sims reward traits based on Sims 2 aspirations. As part of my setup process, I assign each Sim a reward trait that corresponds to their current aspiration. 

Sims 4 Personality Mod
I assign my Sims a reward trait that corresponds with their aspiration for better whims.

If a Sim has an aspiration that does not correspond with one of the six reward traits (Family, Fortune, Knowledge, Romance, Pleasure, Popularity), I roll a number between 1 – 6 and choose their trait randomly. 

Aspirations

And finally, I re-select each Sim’s aspiration. This is only necessary if you also use the Lifetime Aspirations mod – which makes aspiration more like they were in The Sims 2. For some reason, you need to re-select their aspiration to update the goals. 

Sims 4 Lifetime Aspirations Mod
You must re-select aspirations when using the Lifetime Aspirations mod.

With this mod, Sims have a single more difficult goal to work on throughout their entire lives (rather than the steps they must complete in the vanilla game). I just prefer this way of playing better, so I count this in my rotational setup process. 

Note: This mod also includes 38 NEW aspirations, so you might want to consider giving the premades a more accurate aspiration that fits them better during this step.

MC Command Center

I consider MC Command Center ESSENTIAL if you want to play the Sims 4 rotationally. Although I use all the mods from my Sims 4 mods list, this is one you cannot go without if you want complete control of your game.

MC Command Center allows you to have real Sims 2-style gameplay. This way, when you stop playing a household, they will be the same when you get back to them. Pregnancies won’t progress, your Sims won’t lose relationships, etc. You can be there for all the major events in every one of your Sims’ lives. 

I  have another post that details my MC Command Center settings for rotational gameplay so you can set yours up the same way. Or you can even download my settings and import them directly into your game to start playing right away!

Holidays & Seasons

Finally, if you like to use your own holidays instead of the default Maxis ones, I recommend setting them up now before you start playing. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy, I will set them up at the beginning of each season instead. 

You can see the holidays I use on my gameplay rules page if you want some inspiration. I also set my Seasons length to 28 days – the maximum length. Since I play each family for 7 days, the season will change once every four households.

Eventually, all my Sims will experience every season while I’m playing them. But I don’t worry about it to much if it takes a few rounds. 

Gameplay & Rules

Now that everything is setup, I start playing my households one by one (in rotation) using my Sims 4 gameplay rules. I’ve already written extensively about these rules, so check out that post if you want to read more about how I handle everything from choosing traits to going to University. 

I play each household for one Sim week – from Sunday at 8:00 AM to Sunday at 8:00 AM. This makes it easier to keep track of when to switch families. However, if this is too long for you, feel free to play for a shorter time.

When you have a lot of households, playing for three or four days at a time might be easier. Just keep up with whatever you choose on your spreadsheet, so you know when to switch. The most important thing is playing each family for the same number of days. 

Have Fun!

So that’s the basics of how I personally play The Sims 4 rotationally – along with my gameplay rules and my recommended mods. To me, this is the most fun way to play the game. Are you a rotational player? Leave your tips in the comments below!

21 thoughts on “How I Play The Sims 4 Rotationally”

  1. Hi.
    Trying to download you amazing spreadsheet but i can’t open it. It’s a Z7 file and can’t change it or open it on excel or word. Do you know how? I suck at this with files… haha.
    Amazing work you’ve put down with this, thank you for bringing life to my love for Sims 4!

    Reply
    • Hi! You have to unzip it with a program like 7zip or Winrar first. The spreadsheet file is zipped inside. (I use 7zip, which is free to download.)

      Reply
  2. Hey Cindy!

    I downloaded your MCCC settings, but I am finding that when I switch households, time has still passed. I really want to be able to experience every moment of my sims’ lives – do you know how I could go about fixing this?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi! You have to make sure you turn on Aging for ONLY active households in the game options. Time will still have passed because that’s just how Sims 4 works, but your Sims should not be aging or progressing in their lives.

      Reply
  3. Hey Cindy I was just wondering what version of the NPCC mod your using, I tried using the most recent version but it doesn’t work in my game unfortunately. Thanks for this guide though 🙂 Super helpful!!

    Reply
    • I am using the most recent version on the Patreon (1.3.6b), but I believe it may need an update for the last patch. Hopefully Paulson will update it soon!

      Reply
  4. This is great! Trying it out today, it’s taken me a bit to set up but hopefully this will refresh my sims 4 experience.

    By the way, you have the cheatcodes for giving degrees mixed! If you take a look at Fine Art and History degrees, you’ll see they are mixed.

    Reply
  5. This is soooo cool. I’ve been looking at this page a lot and your channel but never played rotational because I’m overwhelmed. I really want to try though.

    Just out of curiosity, do you play ts4 like this a lot or it’s just the best you could do with it and still mainly Play ts2 or 3? I remember you saying you were burned out on ts4 and that you just weren’t having fun a while back but idk if things changed or not.

    Reply
    • Hi! This is how I play when I play Sims 4. But I alternate between which game I feel like playing at the moment. I’ll play Sims 2 for a while, then get tired of that and move to Sims 3, then get tired of that and move to Sims 4. Honestly, Sims 4 keeps my interest for a shorter time than the other games, but I still play it and enjoy it when I do. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
      • Yes, it pulls from your Library. I can’t use this option because I have certain townies in my library that I only want to appear in certain worlds (i.e. the Pleasantview townies). But it’s an option for someone who only plays a single save or doesn’t care about that!

        Reply
        • This helps. Select the limit by tag option in MC Pop. (The pulling from tray thing. I don’t have it in front of me.)

          This tag: apply to the sims that are acceptable to pull from.
          “mccc_include” to their library description.

          You have the other option of bypassing sims with:
          “mccc_bypass” tag

          I find it easier to pick the sims I want to include, but it may be faster to go with the exclusion method if you have just a few.

          Reply
  6. I find that MCCC is not only buggy, but if you Use Wicked Whims. MCCC will just tell You ever hour your mods are our of date or broken. I found by mistake after last year summer(2020) update. You don’t need MCCC. N I can’t believe no one talks about this Cheat. Now sometimes you need to type in testingcheats on for it to work. But there is an easy way without mods to cheat. Click on a sim or has my Kid found out yesterday, objects like the chicken coop. Hit Shift n right click n Bam cheats. Like make Sims happy, stop decay. And a pile more. No more buggie MCCC telling me the WW mod that just updated is broken. I can play Sims now with no mods.

    Reply
    • Hi! This is a common way to access cheats in The Sims games (all the way back to The Sims 2), so that’s probably why you don’t hear about it much. But it does not give you access to anywhere close to the options available with MCCC. If you are only using MCCC for cheats, I agree – you don’t need it! But I use this mod for a lot more than that. 🙂 I don’t use Whicked Whims, so I can’t speak to that, but I don’t have any issues with conflicts when using it with wonderful whims.

      Reply
  7. This is WAY more organized than how I’ve been doing it all this time. I’ll have to give this a try. I’ll probably tweak it around certain holidays, as I don’t like having just one family monopolize Winterfest and give just a few hours to a family before jumping to another family to let them celebrate as well (though obviously not everyone can). This of course is only do-able if you slow down the game days. Anyway, thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  8. U just gave me so many mods that I can use and I need for my game, I play rotational gameplay as well, but I don’t have half of these mods and I get bored with the game quick. I just started a legacy challenge on a fresh new save and I’m going to go and download these mods now and get everything set up. Girl this has helped me tremendously. Thank u so much!! Love your videos BTW…your awesome!

    Reply

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