Sims 3: Paintings and novels


Tools of the trade(s).

If you don’t want to run on the career treadmill, or if your life goal is to be an illustrious author, you would love to live in the world of Sims 3. In this near future scenario, the demand for handmade paintings and novels is insatiable. I have of course come up with a rational explanation for this. Obsessed, me? Nah, just your ordinary genius. Here we go:

If you look at the workplaces in Sims 3, you will notice that nobody works at a factory or warehouse or drives a truck. These things either don’t exist or nobody cares enough to place them on the map. Even the fast-food outlet is not hiring. The jobs either require a human touch or a bit of genius: Medicine, science, law enforcement, music etc. (And, strangely enough, the military; I suppose some people still believe in military intelligence…)

So my theory is that in the timeline of Sims 3, manufacture has been entirely automated and is now in the claws of industrial robots, with minimal if any human supervision. There is an unlimited variety of mass produced goods – you can for instance get your clothes and sofa in matching polka dots if you so desire – but there are still things the machines can’t do.

With the market for machine-made stuff saturated, people value things that are actually handmade, such as firsthand paintings and new novels. Actually this is a trend already in motion, and one that has been predicted to explode once nanomachines make it as easy to copy hardware as it now is to copy software. (I don’t believe that will happen, by the way. But robotic manufacture? It could well happen in our world too. We’ve been on that path for a long time.)

Anyway, that’s the conjecture. The “fact” of the game world is that paintings and novels are paid fairly well. The last couple days I’ve been playing a guy who wanted to become an illustrious author, that is to say someone who has realized his full potential in both illustration (painting) and writing. I’ll share my mistakes for the benefit of those who will follow after me.

My first mistake was to take a job, and keep it for too long. The guy wanted to get a job in medicine, something that does not at all relate to his lifetime goal. I let him get such a job, and he wasted years emptying bedpans at a lousy pay, just like in the real world. Also like in the real world, as soon as he started to get a livable wage, he was put on call. He would come home stressed and dirty and tired, take a shower and sit down with the chess board to have some fun while improving his logic skill. (Logic skill is used in the medicine career in Sims 3; your opinion may vary on whether this also is like the real world.) This guy was even a genius, meaning he took easily to logic. But by the time he was in a reasonably good mood, it was time to go to bed. And then the phone would ring, and he would have to hurry to the hospital and work until he was on the verge of collapse. He barely made it back to the bed without fainting, and then three hours later it was time to get up and go to work again. It is entirely too realistic. So he finally quit. I should have done that long before.

My next mistake was to start with the writing instead of painting. I guess my personal bias blinded me. And in all fairness, I believe writing pays more. However, there are still at least three good reasons to choose painting first:
1) Painting is fun. Not as fun as computer games, but your Sim will grow steadily more smiley as he keeps working. This is not true for writing (and most other things that earn money). With writing, you have to take breaks and do something fun or you will get depressed, or at the very least lose out on those lifetime happiness points. Remember, if your Sim is happy, those points trickle in and lets you purchase various upgrades to body and soul eventually.
2) Painting pays off as soon as you are finished. With books, you get only small advances while you write, and most of the money comes over the next six weeks, and only once a week, on Sunday. That is fine when you are financially secure, but it sucks if you have to sell your dining table to pay your bills.
3) At a high skill level, a couple paintings in each room will greatly raise the room score, and your Sim will get a bonus to happiness for as long as he stays in the room. My artistic Sim now has them even in the bathroom. As long as he is at home, the happiness points keep rolling in, even in his sleep. Novels have no such effect, as far as I know.  (Then again he keeps them in his inventory.)

A related mistake was trying to keep friends. There is a reason why writers are regarded as reclusive, and I may have been wrong in assuming that they were simply that way before they started writing. (It is hard for me to say, since I have been writing since before I started  grade school.) Between gardening, writing, and replenishing his fun, there was time for little more than eating, peeing and sleeping. Writing really is a full-time job, at least until you become famous. Since he was a friendly, charismatic person (I gave him those traits because I wanted to learn to know the inhabitants of Sunset Valley), he constantly wanted to be friends with people, or meet someone new, or just chat. And I let him. But of course the friendships unraveled quickly when he tried to actually get some writing done.

I don’t really count the gardening as a mistake, although it takes its time. The thing about gardening is that eventually you will be able to grow life fruit. Sirius Sim was lucky and found a life fruit seed fairly early, and a money tree seed as well. (I dislike the money tree, too jarring break with realism, but the seeds are not labeled when you pick them. You can see how common or uncommon they are, but not what species.) Life fruit and money tree are both “special” seeds that you can find near the graveyard or research center, and the sooner in your life you find a life fruit seed, the better your chance of becoming immortal or something close to it. You need a gardening skill of 7 to plant special seeds though, and he did not have that when he found them. So gardening was in order. Of course, you may want to become immortal through your works of art. Me, my Sim and Woody Allen all prefer to become immortal through not dying, although only my Sim has a reasonable shot at it.

Once I shifted my focus to painting, things soon started to improve. The first paintings are not enough to pay the bills, but it does not take long before money worries start to fade. Well, unless you have the “snob” trait, in which case you probably have to buy lots of expensive stuff. But who in their right mind would choose to be a snob? By the time he had fully mastered the skill of painting, the house was moderately larger and he had enough cash to do nothing for a generation or two if he so desired.

I’ll still maximize his writing skill, since it is his lifetime want, but after that I intend to let him make more friends and perhaps, one day, find love. I mean, this is not my self-Sim by any stretch of the imagination. He already met a super cute woman who was a nice bookworm like himself and they became best friends in the course of one evening. But of course she was already married. That’s the kind of blows faith strikes in Sims 3. In Sims 2, all the townies were single. Oh well. Let us hope she has daughters as cute as herself. Sirius is planning to stick around for a few generations, after all…

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