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 Playstyle
- Death & Funerals
- Gender Preference
- Seasons & Holidays
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
I have my Sims join a career in four instances:
- Upon aging up to a Young Adult if they do not go to University.
- Upon dropping out of University and moving back home.
- They roll the whim to start a certain career (thanks to The Personality Mod).
- 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.
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.
I create three clubs as soon as I start playing – Kids, Teens, and Singles.
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.
- Age: Child
- Do homework
- Be friendly with Kids Club
- Play with toys
- Watch TV
- Play on playground equipment
All the teens in a world are in a club together. They continue getting to know each other as they grow up.
- Age: Teen
- Be friendly with Teens Club
- Be funny with Teens Club
- Do homework
- Watch TV
- Listen to music
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.
- Age: Young Adult
- Marital Status: Not married
- Be friendly with Singles Club members
- Be funny with Singles Club members
- Be romantic with Singles Club members
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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*|
|8||Cuisine||Gourmet Cooking||Master Chef||Foodie|
|11||Film & Lit||TV & Movies||Movie Buff*|
|12||Film & Lit||Reading||Bookworm|
|13||Film & Lit||Writing||Bestselling Author||Scribe*, Creative, Bookworm|
|17||Fitness||Swimming||Active, Child of the Ocean|
|18||Fitness||Yoga||Active, Health Nut*|
|20||Gaming||Video Games||Computer Whiz||Geek, Competitive*|
|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|
|41||Sports||Snowboarding||Extreme Sports Enthusiast||Active|
|42||Sports||Skiing||Extreme Sports Enthusiast||Active|
|45||Tinkering||Woodworking||Perfectionist, Maker, Artisan*|
|46||Tech||Programming||Computer Whiz||Geek, Genius|
|48||Tech||Hacking||Computer Whiz||Geek, Genius|
*These traits are custom content.
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 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).
For all Sims, I choose the “Let Fate and Time Decide.” This allows Sims to change their minds over time (or not). To choose this option, I click on the Sim and then choose Pregnancy & Family > Define Pregnancy Wish > Let Fate and Time Decide the Sim’s Wishes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
- Art History
- Computer Science
- Culinary Arts
- Fine Art
- Language & Literature
Sims may choose a distinguished degree if they were accepted for one.
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.
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.