The Sims 4 Gameplay Rules ~ Pleasant Sims Style

Sims 4 Gameplay Rules Pleasant Sims
Pleasant Sims Gameplay Rules for Sims 4

I have tried for many years to make The Sims 4 work for my specific gameplay style. Although it’s not perfect (and I require a lot of mods), I have finally created a system that I find enjoyable when I need a break from The Sims 2.

These are the rules and guidelines I use while I play. They are a constant work in progress, and I will add/remove/update as things change.

LAST UPDATE: 05/09/2021 (Major Overhaul to Rules)

I also use a variety of mods to help me achieve this play style. You can see my recommended mods list here

Table of Contents

General Play Style

I play using a wants-based (or I guess in The Sims 4 we could call it whims-based) style. This means I don’t force my Sims to do things like work on their careers, build skills, or pursue relationships. They must “want” to do these things by getting a whim for them or doing them autonomously. The whim overhaul mod is NECESSARY for this playstyle. 

I let my Sims fail, and many will not rise to the top of their careers or achieve their lifetime aspiration – just like in the real world. I only direct my Sims to do things that they have a whim for or to take care of their basic needs and keep them alive. Otherwise, whatever happens in their lives is totally up to them. 

I also play rotationally – meaning I play the entire neighborhood starting with one family and cycling through them all in rotations. See “Rotations” section below for more information. 

Pack Settings

In the gameplay settings, under “Pack settings,” I UNCHECK ALL boxes under Eco Lifestyle and Bust the Dust. This disables gameplay that I dislike. I also UNCHECK the box under Get Famous because I like to play with fame.

Aging

In game options, I make the following changes to aging:

  • Auto-Age (Played Sims) – Only Active Household
  • Auto-Age (Unplayed Sims) – YES*
  • Sim Lifespan – Normal

*I auto-age unplayed Sims for the first week of my rounds, then turn it off for the remainder of the round. This way, unplayed Sims only age a single week per round (as do all my played Sims). Basically, I change this setting to “YES” only while playing the first family’s week. 

I play with a custom age span where 1 day = 1 year of real life. I use MCCC to set the age span duration for each life stage as follows:

  • Baby: 2 days (0 – 1 years)
  • Toddler: 3 days (2 – 4 years)
  • Child: 8 days (5 – 12 years)
  • Teen: 7 days (13 – 19 years)
  • YA: 20 days (20 – 39 years)
  • Adult: 20 days (39 – 59 years)
  • Elder: 16 days (60 – 75 years)

My Sims live for a total of 75 days (years) if they reach the end of their life span and don’t have bonus days from being active, etc. 

Aspirations

I use the Lifetime Aspirations mod, which makes aspirations more like they were in Sims 2. I also use The Personality Mod, which gives Sims a reward aspiration tied to specific whims. The reward aspirations include:

  • Family
  • Knowledge
  • Fortune
  • Popularity
  • Romance
  • Pleasure

If a Sim has an aspiration that doesn’t fit into any of these categories, I roll a random number between 1 – 6 to assign them a reward aspiration. This adds a lot of personality to your Sims. You could end up with a Family Sim with a Deviance aspiration or a Popularity Sim with a Nature aspiration, etc. 

I choose a Sim’s reward aspiration upon aging up to teen. 

Child Aspirations

All children in my game get the Grow Up Aspiration (get the mod here). This aspiration works similarly to the Grow Up Lifetime Want from The Sims 2. It determines if they grow up well or not.

Careers

I have my Sims join a career in four instances:

  1. Upon aging up to a Young Adult if they do not go to University.
  2. Upon dropping out of University and moving back home.
  3. They roll the whim to start a certain career (thanks to The Personality Mod). 
  4. They roll the whim to start a new job.

If Sims don’t roll the whim for a specific career, I use their aspirations as a guide. If they don’t have an aspiration that corresponds to a certain career, I look at their traits. A creative Sim may go into the artist career, a foodie into the culinary career, etc. If their traits are no help, I roll to randomly choose.

Clubs

I create two types of clubs in my game – age-based and hobby. All playable Sims join the appropriate age-based clubs immediately, and hobby-based clubs are joined when they become young adults.

I set all clubs to open invitation to make adding Sims easier.

Age-Based Clubs

I create three clubs as soon as I start playing – Kids, Teens, and Singles. 

Kids Club

All the children in a world are in a club together. This way, they can start getting to know each other as young as possible. When a child ages up to a teen, they move to the teens club.

Club requirements:

  • Age: Child

Club activities:

  • Do homework
  • Be friendly with Kids Club
  • Play with toys
  • Watch TV
  • Play on playground equipment

Teens Club

All the teens in a world are in a club together. They continue getting to know each other as they grow up.

Club requirements:

  • Age: Teen

Club activities:

  • Be friendly with Teens Club
  • Be funny with Teens Club
  • Do homework
  • Watch TV
  • Listen to music

Singles Club

When a teen ages to a young adult, they join the singles club. This is a club for young adults to spend time together and date. Meeting place is the local nightclub.

Club requirements:

  • Age: Young Adult
  • Marital Status: Not married

Club activities:

  • Be friendly with Singles Club members
  • Be funny with Singles Club members
  • Be romantic with Singles Club members
  • Dance
  • Drink bar drinks

Once a Sim gets married, they are removed from the Singles Club and are no longer eligible for an age-based club.

Hobby Clubs

I also create hobby clubs so Sims can make friends with other Sims who have similar interests.

All my playable Sims join ONE club (other than the Singles Club) upon aging to a young adult. I use clubs with my hobby system (see below). This means Sims will join the club that corresponds to their individual hobby.  

Death & Funerals

When a Sim passes away, I have a funeral service for them at the family’s home or the local church community lot, if available. 

Cemetery

After a family has a memorial service for a deceased Sim, I take the tombstone to the local cemetery, where the Sim is laid to rest for good. Family members may go and visit their dead loved ones at any time. I set the lot trait for the cemetery as “haunted.”

Finances

The Sims 4 has come a long way when it comes to managing bills and finances. Over the years, some amazing mods have been released that allow a very realistic and fun playing experience. This is how I handle my finances.

Bills & Banking

Every Sim – upon aging up to a young adult – opens a bank account of their own. Sims deposit at least 50 percent of their career income via direct deposit into their bank accounts. I use the SNB mod to manage bank accounts and the SNB Bills mod to manage bills.

Sims who live together and are unrelated deposit 100% into their bank accounts and divide the bill payments accordingly. When Bills are due, each Sim in the house contributes their portion by transferring money from their bank accounts to the household funds.

If teens earn their own money, they may open a bank account and save their earnings separately to take with them when they move out as young adults. 

With the SNB Bills mod, Sims pay a deposit to setup utilities, cable, internet, and phone upon moving into a lot or the first time you play a lot. Poor Sims may forgo signing up for cable and internet if funds are tight, but everyone must have at least water, power, and phone service.

Salaries

For more of a challenge (and because I find it more realistic) I use the career overhaul mod to make career progression more difficult and engaging. I feel like Sims are overpaid big-time in The Sims 4 (and in all the other Sims games too).

This mod reduces salaries, required university degrees to reach the top of careers, and changes the career progression requirements to be more useful and realistic. 

Gender Preference

When Sims age up to teens, I randomize their gender preference using the following guideline:

  • 20 percent chance that a Sim will be gay
  • 10 percent chance that a Sim will be bisexual

I go to random.org and roll a number between 1 – 100. If the number is 20 or below, the Sim becomes gay. If the number is 21 or above, I roll again to see if they are bisexual. If the second roll is 10 or below, the Sim is bi. If the second roll is 11 or above, the Sim is straight. I use Wonderful Whims to set their gender preference. 

This is a little higher than the percentage of LGBT people in real life. That’s because I play with a much smaller population in The Sims and I want some gay/lesbian couples in my game. This percentage seems to work for me and I usually end up with at least one gay couple in a generation.

If a Sim rolls as gay in their generation but no other Sims do, I will choose the Sim they are closest to of the same sex and also make them gay. If there is no obvious partner for the Sim among the playables (everyone is taken or they have no close friends, etc.), I allow them to choose the townie they like best. 

Hobbies

I’ve created my own hobby and sub-hobby system based on the one I use for Sims 2 – but tailored for The Sims 4 of course. 

When choosing, aspiration is the priority. If a Sim has an aspiration that corresponds to a hobby, this will be their main hobby. Traits are given second priority. If a Sim does not have a corresponding aspiration or trait, I roll randomly to choose their hobby. I choose a hobby for my Sims upon aging to Young Adult when they have all their traits. 

Sims spend their extra time working on their hobbies, join hobby clubs, and focus on these activities when they want or need to have fun. 

# Hobby Sub-Hobby Aspiration Traits
1 Arts & Crafts Flower Arranging   Creative
2 Arts & Crafts Painting Painter Extraordinaire Creative, Perfectionist
3 Arts & Crafts Candle Making Master Maker Creative, Maker, Artisan*
4 Arts & Crafts Knitting Lord/Lady of the Knits Creative
5 Arts & Crafts Photography   Creative, Photographer’s Eye*
6 Cuisine Mixology Master Mixologist  
7 Cuisine Cooking Master Chef Foodie
8 Cuisine Gourmet Cooking Master Chef Foodie
9 Cuisine Baking   Foodie
10 Cuisine Juice Fizzing   Maker
11 Film & Lit TV & Movies   Movie Buff*
12 Film & Lit Reading   Bookworm
13 Film & Lit Writing Bestselling Author Scribe*, Creative, Bookworm
14 Fitness Cardio/Jogging Body Builder Active
15 Fitness Weightlifting Body Builder Active
16 Fitness Boxing   Active
17 Fitness Swimming   Active, Child of the Ocean
18 Fitness Yoga   Active, Health Nut*
19 Gaming Chess   Geek, Competitive*
20 Gaming Video Games Computer Whiz Geek, Competitive*
21 Gaming Bowling   Competitive*
22 Gaming Cards   Competitive*
23 Gaming Pub Games   Competitive*
24 Music Dancing   Dance Machine
25 Music DJ Mixing    
26 Music Guitar Musical Genius Creative
27 Music Piano Musical Genius Creative
28 Music Pipe Organ    
29 Music Singing    
30 Music Violin Musical Genius Creative
31 Nature Animal Training Friend of the Animals Cat Lover, Dog Lover
32 Nature Archaeology Archaeology Scholar Loves Outdoors
33 Nature Fishing Angling Ace Loves Outdoors
34 Nature Gardening Freelance Botanist Loves Outdoors, Horticulturist*
35 Nature Herbalism Outdoor Enthusiast Loves Outdoors, Horticulturist*
36 Nature Collecting The Curator Loves Outdoors
37 Science Rocket Science Nerd Brain  
38 Science Star Gazing    
39 Science Microscopy    
40 Sports Basketball   Active
41 Sports Snowboarding Extreme Sports Enthusiast Active
42 Sports Skiing Extreme Sports Enthusiast Active
43 Tinkering Fabrication Master Maker Maker
44 Tinkering Repairing/Upgrading   Tinker*
45 Tinkering Woodworking   Perfectionist, Maker, Artisan*
46 Tech Programming Computer Whiz Geek, Genius
47 Tech Robotics   Geek, Genius
48 Tech Hacking Computer Whiz Geek, Genius

*These traits are custom content. 

Parenting

When a child or teen asks for advice or parents get a call from the school, I roll a number between 1 – 100. If the number is 50 or lower, I choose the first option. If the number is 51 or over, I choose the second option. It’s always a gamble how these situations impact my Sims.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy in my game lasts for the default 72 hours. (Sim biology works differently from ours, and their gestation period is ~ 3 years using my aging system.)

I use Wonderful Whims to manage fertility and menstrual cycles of my Sims. If they have unprotected woohoo (or TFB) and show signs of pregnancy like vomiting, I have them take a pregnancy test.

I also use Woohoo Wellness to define a Sim’s preference for children. Some Sims want children and others don’t. Their reactions to pregnancy are determined by this preference. I allow the mod to auto-assign pregnancy preferences for most Sims. The exceptions are family-oriented Sims (always want a pregnancy) and hates children (never want a pregnancy).

Abortion

I allow my Sims to get an abortion (through Woohoo Wellness) if they have an unwanted pregnancy and the partner Sim also does not want a child. (Yes, I know it’s the female’s body and her choice, but this is a game so don’t get so offended.) I have the pregnant Sim ask her partner if he wants children. If he does NOT, then they get an abortion. If he DOES or is on the fence, they keep the baby.

Birth Control

I use Wonderful Whims for Birth Control. If a Sim’s auto preference from Woohoo Wellness is to NOT have children, I put that Sim on birth control (female) or buy condoms (male). This decreases the chances of a pregnancy if one Sim wants a child and the other doesn’t, but I leave it up to the individual. Sims who are unsure about having a child do not get birth control.

Fertility Treatments

I allow my Sims to get a fertility treatment if they have tried for baby three times without getting pregnant. Fertility treatments cost $950 and are available through the Wonderful Whims menu on the phone.

Rotations

I play my families rotationally for one Sim-week each before moving to the next – from Sunday morning to Sunday morning. I have aging disabled for households I’m not currently playing, so I can play every day of my Sims’ lives. 

I use MCCC to pause labor for playable families in case I have to leave a family with a pregnant Sim before she is due. I switch to them when I’m notified for the birth so I can be there for the special occasion and name the baby. 

Seasons & Holidays

I play Seasons so that each family in my rotations experiences the same season each round. I set my season length to 28 days and if I am playing more than four families (4 x 7 = 28), I cheat when I get to the fifth family to set the season to the correct one. 

For example, in the first round of rotations, I play every family for one week during Spring. For the second round/rotation, I change the season to Summer and play all families for a week during that season, etc. 

My families celebrate the following holidays:

  • Spring Equinox
    • An Easter-like holiday in celebration of Spring.
    • Decoration theme is Spring.
    • Celebrated on the first Thursday in Spring.
    • Traditions include egg hunt, flower bunny, grand meal.
  • Summer Solstice
    • A celebration of summer.
    • Decoration theme is None.
    • Celebrated on the second Thursday of Summer.
    • Traditions include bar-b-que, drinking, fire, fireworks, and party spirit.
  • Autumn Equinox
    • A Halloween-like holiday and celebration of Fall.
    • Decoration theme is Spooky.
    • Celebrated on third Thursday of Autumn.
    • Traditions include mischief spirit, remembrance, spooky spirit, trick or treat, and wear costumes.
  • Winter Solstice
    • A Christmas-like holiday in celebration of winter.
    • Decoration theme is Winterfest.
    • Celebrated on fourth Thursday of Winter.
    • Traditions include attend father winter, festive spirit, grand meal, invite guests, and open presents.

Sims always get the day off work and school for holidays.

Because I play families for seven days and my holidays only occur once every 28 days, not every family will celebrate every holiday every round. Celebrating holidays every single week becomes very tedious in my opinion, so I prefer to celebrate only once every 28 days. And the family that I happen to be playing at that time will be the ones to celebrate for that round. 

Traits

I randomize toddler traits because I really don’t care. They have no impact on who the Sim becomes. 

As they age from child to young adult, my Sims inherit one trait from their mother, one trait from their father, and one random trait of their own. I roll a number between 1 – 3 to choose the trait for each life stage.

  • Child – Inherits Trait from Father
  • Teen – Inherits Trait from Mother
  • Young Adult – Random Trait

If the trait I roll for (from the parents) is not available at the Sim’s age, I re-roll until I get one that does. In the rare case that NONE of the parent’s traits are available at the Sim’s age, I roll a random trait for that slot too. 

University

When a teen Sim ages to a young adult, I decide if they’ll go to University. Sims with the following aspirations ALWAYS go to college:

  • Fortune
  • Knowledge

For all other aspirations, Sims have a 50/50 chance of going to University. I roll a number between 1 -100. If the number is 50 or lower, the Sim goes to University. If the number is 51 or above, they don’t.

Sims who go to University upon aging up move to Britechester and live in the dorms (see “Moving” below). They must take out student loans if their family cannot afford tuition after exhausting any scholarships.

Sims who do not go to University upon aging up, get a regular career or start working on their non-traditional occupation (see Careers section) immediately.

I use the Career Overhaul Mod so it’s necessary for Sims to get a University degree if they want to reach the top of their career. If a Sim with no degree rolls the want to get a promotion and the promotion requires a degree, they may enroll in University. These Sims will attend part-time and live at home while they keep working. This can be very difficult, especially if a Sim has a family – which I find to be very realistic.

Moving

When it’s time for a YA Sim to go to University upon age up, I move them into their own household. Any other Sims that are set to go to University during this round are added to the same household. After playing all families in the current rotation, I then play the University round. 

All the current University Sims live in a small lot together while they submit their applications and wait on acceptance. I call this the “University Students Lot.” Once they’ve been accepted to a University, I have them enroll in their degree programs (see below for choosing a degree) and move into the dorms. All Sims who attend the same University live in the same dorms.

If I end up with Sims in both universities, I switch back and forth between them, playing one day at a time in each household until graduation. If all Sims are in the same University, I play the household the entire time until graduation.

Degrees

If the Sim has an aspiration or trait that corresponds to a certain career path, they enroll in the degree program that works best for that career. If the Sim does not have an aspiration or trait that aligns them with a specific career, I roll a number between 1 – 13 to choose a random degree:

  1. Art History
  2. Biology
  3. Communications
  4. Computer Science
  5. Culinary Arts
  6. Drama
  7. Economics
  8. Fine Art
  9. History
  10. Language & Literature
  11. Physics
  12. Psychology
  13. Villainy

Sims may choose a distinguished degree if they were accepted for one.

Term Length

I use the shorter University degrees mod (4 credit version) so my Sims only need eight classes to graduate. This takes one week if the Sims pass every class. 

Sims who do not pass in one week are placed back into the “University Students Lot” in the home world. They will attend again in the next University round with the next batch of students. 

Whims-Based Gameplay

My Sims can fail out of University if they don’t study and do their work. I play whims-based, which means my Sims only do coursework if they roll a whim or do it autonomously. Because of the limitations of whims, there are some exceptions.

When Sims roll a want to study or do homework, I have them choose the class that starts the soonest. There are no whims for presentations or term papers, so I make my Sims work on these whenever they have free time. Free time is any time that they aren’t taking care of needs or doing other University work that they’ve rolled whims for.

If a Sim who was working and attending University part-time fails out, they may enroll again if they roll the whim to get a promotion again.

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29 thoughts on “The Sims 4 Gameplay Rules ~ Pleasant Sims Style”

  1. I’ve recently been struggling to play TS4 in an enjoyable way. I started a Random Legacy Challenge which has already been fun for me.
    Some of this post makes me think I should look into getting Get Together to make clubs because that seems like a good addition.
    I haven’t been using any mods and don’t think I will but the WooHoo Wellness one sounds awesome!
    Love your videos and content. (:

    Reply
    • I love the Club Feature and it’s the best “new” thing Sims 4 has added to the game IMO. It makes it easy to group up your generations and helps your Sims make friends. Get Together is my favorite expansion for Sims 4, so I would definitely recommend it.

      Reply
  2. For Eco Living and the NAPs, you can disable NPC voting in the game settings. As long as you don’t let your actives vote, no NAPs will come up. You’ll still get the notifications for the voting times though.

    Reply
    • Thanks! I need to go back and experiment with this more – and I will after I get University down. When the pack was first released, this didn’t work properly without mods and Sims still acted like idiots even with voting off. I’m hoping they fixed this and maybe with mods and disabling this (plus the footprints), it will be tolerable!

      Reply
  3. Love these, as always great ideas to make ts more interesting, but I could never have a baby for more than 2-3 days hahaha too annoying!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Cindy, I love your content so much! Can you please help me with age span settings for cats & dogs? How to make it realistic?

      Reply
      • Hi! These are my MC Command Center Settings for dogs and cats:

        • Set Age Span Duration > Cat
        o Child = 28.0,30.0
        o Adult = 220.0,224.0
        o Elder = 84.0,90.0

        • Set Age Span Duration > Dog
        o Child = 28.0,30.0
        o Adult = 220.0,224.0
        o Elder = 80.0,84.0

        Reply
  4. Baby: 56 days… Lmao. I used to age up babies immediately. And I’ve set the duration of toddler life stage to 3 days and to 5 days for children. But even that was too annoying for me, so now I completely disabled spawning of NPC children through MCCC, and my played sims do not have children. If I want them to reproduce, I use “play with genetics” in CAS and make them a teenage daughter/son.

    Reply
  5. This looks so good! I actually though about givin sims a really long livespan and just leave aging on all the time, as it’s too much of a hussle for me to turn aging off for Townies after the first household of a round. I don’t play much Sims 4 as it doesn’t really run smoothly on my PC but I’m planning to get a new one soon and hope to be playing more then (I mean, I spent a lot of money for packs and stuff ‘=D ) I also like how your are using clubs! Might draw inspiration from that too. Do you also have a spreadsheet for keeping track of your sims? I know you are the queen of spreadsheets! xD

    Reply
  6. Can I ask what your MCCC settings are for pregnancy and relationships? I keep tweaking but I seem to end up with a lot of random children!!
    BTW I love this breakdown of your rules – I think I said that on YouTube too!

    Reply
  7. Thank you for sharing this ! I love to see how other simmers play the Sims 4. The clubs idea is brilliant ! I might add it to my save file :).
    If you ever want to, I would love to watch it in videos (how you play multiple families, how you planned each city, show us the clubs and everything ! :D).
    Thanks again for the inspiration !!

    Reply
  8. Hi Cindy, have you ever tried playing with the Enlist in War Mod? I’m starting a neighborhood playthrough inspired by your Edgewood play style (starting with a few different families/people and populating the world that way) and I’m planning to incorporate it.

    Reply
  9. I really like these ideas but (dont hate me please) the mathematics is wrong when referring to percentages lgbtq+. You said you roll once, 1-100, 21 is roll again to determine bi or straight. You multiply the probabilities if rolling a second time, so 80% chance of not-gay, multiplies by 10% chance of bi which works out at 8% overall chance of being bi, not 10%. I guess it doesnt really matter, it’s only 2%, but I’m a (just a little bit) maths nerd so it annoyed me a little bit. However love your ideas and am 100% using your idea for clubs x

    Reply
    • Thanks, but I don’t really use this rule anymore. Will be updating the post when I have time. Now I use Wonderful Whims to set the population’s gay/bi percentage.

      Reply
  10. This is absolutely incredible! I’m definitely adapting some of this to my own gameplay. May I ask what made you decide to have 7 day seasons? I’ve noticed people who plays long life span tend to do 14 or 28 so that surprised me!

    Reply
  11. I’m really glad I found this! I’ve seen a lot of your videos about sims 2, and I wanted to try to do something similar in sims 4, I’ve been having a hard time having fun with it… I’ll try playing with your rules, hopefully it’ll help! If not, I’ll probably end up going back to sims 2… I didn’t know how much I missed wants and fears until i saw your videos, I didn’t even notice sims 4 disabled the whims… sims 4 still feels so empty 6 years in 🙁

    Reply

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