The Sims team has officially announced that Story Progression is coming to The Sims 4! It is expected they will go into more detail during today’s Inside Maxis stream, but check out the official community blog below for the first details!
Hello, Simmers! I’m Nate, a designer for The Sims 4.
I joined the team during development of Island Living and have worked on several releases since then. Some accomplishments I’m proud of are: Professor Sims in Discover University (SimGuruMorgan and I made those happen together), the Onsen venue in Snowy Escape (it was surprisingly hard to prevent Servos from merrily wading to their doom in the hot spring), and the cows and llamas in Cottage Living!
Today, I want to give you all a behind-the-scenes look into the latest thing I’ve been a part of: Neighborhood Stories, which arrives on November, 30, 2021!
The Sims 4 has so much that your Sims can see and do, leading to interesting, and often unexpected, life moments. All these life moments add up to something very important: life change at an individual level. My team and I have been exploring ways to carry that same kind of life change to the whole world of The Sims 4 through Neighborhood Stories.
Neighborhood Stories are a set of gameplay moments that all revolve around a single purpose: bring more life to Neighbor Sims that live outside the active household. (“Neighbor Sims” refers to most of the non-player character (NPC) Sims in the game, not just ones who live on the same street as your household. Neighbor Sims excludes special NPCs such as Grim Reaper.)
There’s a lot we want to do to add more life to Neighbor Sims, so we’re rolling it out over more than one release.
This first release focuses on Sims connected to your household: coworkers they’ve gotten to know, friends they’ve met at the Gym or Library… maybe that one Sim who welcomed them to the neighborhood with fruitcake, which seems like a bold move, but to each their own, I guess.
In the same way that your Sims change as they move through life, these Neighbor Sims are getting some new life changes of their own such as choosing a new career or having a baby.
Future updates will build on this with more life changes for a wider range of Sims. Find additional info in the “What’s Next?” section near the end of this post, but for now let’s get a closer look at what’s in this release.
What’s the Neighborhood Stories Gameplay?
Neighborhood Stories begins with gameplay divided between life changes that your Sims can influence Neighbor Sims to consider, things Neighbor Sims autonomously consider, and some that fall into both categories.
Whether they consider a life change autonomously or under influence from your Sims, Neighbor Sims ultimately decide to initiate life changes themselves. That means these changes happen without any need to switch to another household.
“What if I don’t want Sims to autonomously change?” — That’s okay! Everyone has a unique vision for their Sims, and some of you have poured lots of time and love into multi-household/multi-generation saves! All along, we’ve worked with the explicit goal: you choose how Neighborhood Stories affect your game. The two ways this happens are:
- You direct one of your Sims to influence a Neighbor Sim to consider a life change, or…
- …a Neighbor Sim autonomously considering a life change will always call one of your Sims to ask for input before taking any action. You choose the outcome by directing your Sim to say “Yes,” “No,” or leaving it up to the Neighbor Sim to decide.
Our intent is to empower you to decide if a life change makes sense in the story your Sims are living out, or to leave that decision up to the Neighbor Sim altogether.
Remember, these life changes actually happen, so they won’t occur instantly. Neighbor Sims will keep your Sim posted with updates.
Here’s the full list of life changes:
Autonomous or Active Sim Influenced Life Changes
Neighbor Sims may consider these life changes independently, or your Sims can try to convince them to:
- Change their current Career to a different one.
- Have a baby with their partner, if they are in a relationship where either Sim can become pregnant.
- Hang out with other Sims to form or deepen Friendly relationships
Autonomous-only Life Changes
Neighbor Sims can only undergo these life changes independently, but they’ll check with a Sim in the active household beforehand. They just need a little confidence boost! (Or to be let down easily. Don’t worry, they’ll understand!)
- Try to get promoted in their current Career.
- Accept a marriage proposal, if they are already Engaged to another Sim. Neighbor Sims will not autonomously get married for now.
Active Sim Influenced Life Changes
Your Sims can do these things to cause life changes for Neighbor Sims:
- Trash talk one Sim to another, which will greatly reduce the relationship between those two Neighbor Sims.
- Try to get two grown-up Sims, or two Teen Sims, to form a Romantic relationship.
- Try to convince a Sim in a relationship to dump/divorce their Romantic partner
- Encourage an unemployed Neighbor Sim to find a job
To celebrate these new and improved gameplay moments, we’re adding two new Aspirations:
- Neighborhood Confidante is for Sims who aspire to be a helpful and positive presence in the lives of Neighbor Sims. Making friends and guiding others toward life changes will earn the new Confidante trait, which increases the chance of conversations being pleasant. Ever had a conversation turn Boring or Awkward in the middle of a party? Confidante Sims are less susceptible to these mood killers.
- Villainous Valentine is for Sims who aspire to destroy the love lives of all Sims, including their own. Have your Sim break up with someone! Have them break up other couples! Sims that walk this deviant path will earn the new Twisted Heart trait, which makes all Sad and Embarrassed moodlets decay faster and provides a little bonus Social when performing Mean or Mischief socials. Twisted Heart Sims simply DGAFB, which as we all know, stands for “Don’t Give A Freezer Bunny”.
All this new and improved gameplay is available to everyone as part of the base game. It doesn’t require any additional content to fully experience. Everything here also works with existing saves, no new game required.
How Do I See The New Gameplay?
Neighborhood Stories will be part of the base game update arriving November 30, 2021. Keep an eye out here for more details on that update. Once you have that, your Sims need to form at least one friendship outside the household.
For autonomous life changes, Neighbor Sims consider them depending on factors like Traits, meaning not all Sims will consider every life change. You’ll need to wait for Neighbor Sims to consider a change, but having Sims with more friends at higher relationship levels will increase the chances for life changes to happen. We’ve really tried to balance Neighbor Sim life changes happening at an interesting pace, without being too spammy or repetitive.
For life changes that your Sims can try to influence, here’s a breakdown:
To have your Sim influence positive change in Neighbor Sim’s lives, look for these new and updated Friendly socials. (Very useful to Sims with the new Neighborhood Confidante Aspiration.)
- Ask <Sim Name> to Pursue Dream Job
- Discuss Expanding the Family
- Other Sims… > Talk Up Another Sim
- Other Sims… > Hook Up With
To have your Sim try to harm Neighbor Sim’s relationships, look for these updated Mean socials. (Very useful to Sims with the new Villainous Valentine Aspiration.)
- Other Sims… > Trash Another Sim
- Other Sims… > Break Up With
What’s Coming In The Future?
Let’s talk about the future of Neighborhood Stories by returning to the main goal: bring more life to Neighbor Sims that live outside the active household. In a future update, we will realize that goal more broadly with the following:
- Life changes for all Neighbor Sims, with or without relationships in the active household. Just because my Sims don’t know anyone in a particular other household doesn’t mean that household isn’t also changing.
- Gameplay settings to tune life changes Neighbor Sims can and cannot have.
- Controls are layered, allowing a mix and match of rules down to individual households.
- Neighborhood Stories settings are on a per-save basis.
Those familiar with The Sims 3 are probably reminded of Story Progression. Both Story Progression and Neighborhood Stories allow Sims all over the game to experience life changes. However, I want to highlight two key differences:
- Story Progression is one giant system that can only be turned on or off, leaving many players feeling like they must choose between a chaotic world and a boring one. Neighborhood Stories adds the rich gameplay settings I mentioned above, alleviating this issue while solving for the goal: you choose how Neighborhood Stories affects your game.
- Story Progression can affect a wide range of factors in The Sims 3. At the start, Neighborhood Stories will have a much smaller range of life changes. This is because most of the work we’re doing now is on the underlying systems that drive these life changes, plus the gameplay settings we just talked about. That means better tools to create better gameplay, but first we have to do the work!
Whew, that was a lot! I hope this provided a good look at Neighborhood Stories now, and that you are just as excited as I am for what’s to come!
Until next time,
P.S. – Some of this gameplay leverages content that previously was specific to packs. We’ve chosen to do this in cases where the gameplay is a great fit for Neighborhood Stories and we saw opportunities to deepen and improve it for the game overall. Here’s the full list:
- Have a baby with their partner
- The autonomous version of this life change originates from Eco Lifestyle. We have added support for Sentiments and the Sim-influenced version is all new.
- Accept a marriage proposal
- Originates from Eco Lifestyle. Added support for Sentiments.
- Form or deepen Friendly relationships
- Originates from Get Together. Added more dynamic outcomes: if your Sim encourages a friend to hang out with someone they already despise, they won’t like that! On the other hand, if they form a new friendship, then they may also gain positive Sentiments toward your Sim.
- Trash talk one Sim to another
- Originates from Get Together. Added more dynamic outcomes: Sims will not take kindly to trash talk about their friends. Added special moodlets for Mean or Evil Sims.
- Try to get two Sims to form a Romantic relationship
- Originates from Get Together. Added more dynamic outcomes: Neighbor Sims won’t pair up with Sims whose traits conflict, such as Good / Evil, and the active Sim has clearer responses to all possible outcomes.
- Try to convince a Sim in a relationship to dump/divorce their Romantic partner
- Originates from Get Together. Added more dynamic outcomes: Relationship strength between Sims matters and a failed attempt to break up a relationship might backfire with a negative Sentiment from one or both partners!
Thanks for reading!