Loading Screens in The Sims 4 are confusing many players (myself included), so with some new clarification from Gurus, let’s all try to understand this together. 😛
Willow Creek, the first confirmed world for The Sims 4, is a New Orleans inspired world divided into six individual neighborhoods. Only one neighborhood and lot in the world can be active at one time.
• World – The world is split into 6 playable neighborhoods, but is not an “open world” like The Sims 3. Only one individual neighborhood can be active and played at one time.
• Neighborhoods – There are 6 confirmed neighborhoods in Willow Creek. Five neighborhoods have up to five lots within them (both residential and community), and the sixth neighborhood is a large park called Magnolia Blossom.
• Lots – There can only be up to 5 lots in each neighborhood, and only one active lot loaded at a time.
• Public Spaces – Public spaces are the open areas of a neighborhood that are not part of a lot. In The Sims 4, public spaces in each active neighborhood will be fully loaded at all times, and Sims will be able to roam these areas of the world freely.
Loading screens in The Sims 4 have a stylized Plumbob in the center, with text strings passing through at the bottom. According to Gurus, loading screens will take less than 30 seconds of your time, and only appear when traveling between worlds, neighborhoods, and lots.
The following is a simple yes/no on which travels trigger loading screens:
• World to World: Yes
• Neighborhood to Neighborhood: Yes
• Lot to Lot: Yes
• Switching between Sims on two different lots: Yes
• Public Space to non-active lot: Yes
• Public Space to active lot (and vice versa): No
Unofficial representation of the loading screen
Active Sims can travel to any neighborhood/lot in the world, and you as the player can follow right along with them. If you have more than one Sim in your household, you can send them all to other parts of the world without you. When switching between two Sims on different lots, you will incur a loading screen.
Sims outside the active neighborhood can still be controlled to a minimum using a new system called “away actions”. To quote SimGuruGraham, you can “choose other specific Sims for them to socialize with, you can build specific skills, can sleep, can have them maintain their needs…things like careers have their own set of away actions that are more relevant to their work.”
Quote from Graham: You can send Sims off to different neighborhoods, different lots, they’ll continue simulating in the background, so wherever they are, if they’re not active on your lot at that time, time is still passing. If you go somewhere and then come back after a few hours, that time will have passed, so they’re still thinking, they’re doing their life simulation and actually, there’s some small little ‘away actions’ is what we’re calling them, that you can start to have actions for your Sim while they’re away, so you can give them little tasks to do while they’re gone doing their own thing.
Aging: We have two different options in game, if you want to enable automatic aging for your own Sims, for played households, or if you want to enable it for all the NPCs in the world. So you can have your own Sims automatically aging and let everyone else just not age, that’s totally an option.
The entire world can age, that’s an option and that’ll all happen no matter if you’re loaded there or not, they’re going to continue to age. The difference there between played households and NPC households? Played households are families that you have played so I can jump between my household and another household and they can both be aging if I want them to, or I can turn that back off, that’s kind of where the distinction is.