I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the passage of time in Ayre. More specifically, how long of an age span feels right. The balance that’s needed is to have time to play sims’ lives while also getting the sense that sims are aging and time is passing.
In the past, playing a modern prosperity style neighborhood, I’ve opted for life spans much longer than the Sims 2 default. The life spans were modified to reflect a more realistic proportion and length of age spans. In the past, that is what I have preferred. As the neighborhood population grew, I did not play every household every round, and, I had the freedom to play a household for any length of time for their round. Aging was off and I went by a chart to determine when it was time to age sims up. So time could continue to pass in a way that felt satisfactory.
However, I am realizing that this medieval charter challenge feels different. According to the MCC rules, I play every household for a strict five days each season, so a “year” takes 5 days x number of households x 4 seasons. Using a realistic life span in number of “years”, it would take eight and a half rounds for a toddler to grow up, 48 rounds for a child to grow up, and 88 rounds for an adult to become an elder. It took me about three months of real life time to get through the first round, which is no doubt, the fastest. That means it would take twelve real life years for the Berry children to become teens, even if I maintained the pace of the first round.
Using Hat’s Gestational Based Aging, which I have been, meant a shorter span that the above “realistic” for younger sims, but with her mod it would still take 48 game days, or sixteen rounds, for an infant to age to teen. In real life that would probably take approximately three years of real time.
So I made a chart to compare some options, and reflect on what feels like the best approach for me.
Any approach is going to have a trade-off of one of the factors of sim aging. Some of those factors are
- proportion to passage of seasons
- proportion to other age spans (for example, pregnancy and infancy to any other stage etc)
- degree of subjective sense of realism
- sense of passage of time (gratification of aging sims up and gratification of generations passing)
In my past neighborhoods, I have been content to err on the side of proportion, and forego the gratification of generations passing.
For Ayre, the purpose of the Medieval Charter Challenge is to build up a neighborhood that has an integrated middle ages economy and population needed to represent or sustain it. It can be a springboard to a more detailed challenge or to further freestyle play, but for me, seeing sims grow up, take on a profession, start a family, and their children benefit from the growth of the settlement, is a key part of the challenge’s reward.
For that reason, I have decided to suspend disbelief in the area of proportion to seasons and proportion to other age spans. I don’t think I’ve played with Sims 2 default age spans since 2009, but that’s what I’ve decided on for Ayre, at this time.
With the default age span, myself, and readers, will get to see babies age to toddler within the first round they are born, and, probably four to six real life months later, age to child. Within about eight to fifteen real life months, they will age to teen and be on the cusp of being able to have their own children. That seems like a much more enjoyable pace for a challenge whose purpose is to see the growth of the population and economy. The adult life span may be a little long, but Random Occurrence Scenarios will probably impact that over time.
Before starting the Porter household, I plan to take out Hat’s Gestational Aging (which I have left this long because it is so awesome!) and use Chris Hatch’s Neighborhood Age Correct. I also have several mods that slow down skilling and aspirational gains, that go along with longer life spans, which I will remove.
The instructions file for Neighborhood Age Correct is empty, so here’s a note from MTS on how to use it. You put the file in your downloads folder, start the game, and then after a while you’ll get a message that sims ages have been corrected. Then you save, exit, and remove it from your downloads folder. I’ll update here after trying it. I’ve used it once before in Simdale Valley, but that time I was going to a longer age span, not shorter.
Update: After backing up my game file, I removed Hat’s aging mod and the other related mods I had to make skilling and aspirational gains more difficult. Then I added Chris Hatch’s Neighborhood Age Correct to my downloads folder and started the game. Everything seemed to work perfectly, and I checked a few households, saved and exited.
The Berry children and Fiona here will age up in 2 days, so next time we play their households! It looks like our founding teens will age up in 10 days, so end of winter or beginning of spring, in two rounds. Fiona’s father, an adult who has lived through one round, has 23 days left, or almost five more rounds.
I am excited about all the aging and progress the neighborhood will experience in the next Ayre “year!”