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.
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.
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.
These are the things I keep track of for each Sim on my spreadsheet:
- First & Last names
- Role in the household
- Likes & Dislikes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I use the SNB Banking mod (which works together with SNB Bills discussed above) to manage bank accounts and direct deposit for my Sims.
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).
|Art History||traits.equip_trait trait_University_ArtHistoryDegreeBA|
|Computer Science||traits.equip_trait trait_University_ComputerScienceDegreeBS|
|Culinary Arts||traits.equip_trait trait_University_CulinaryArtsDegreeBA|
|Fine Art||traits.equip_trait trait_University_FineArtDegreeBA|
|Language & Literature||traits.equip_trait trait_University_LanguageAndLiteratureDegreeBA|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!