Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Unskinny Bop: Ending the Apocalypse

When I left last time, we had two more restrictions to go (Forensics and Sports Agent) and the respective Sims were about to start their careers (in Law Enforcement and Sports Agent respectively).

By this point, you already know how this is going to go. There are no more secrets. Travel to work in a Motive Mobile, Work Hard, make friends with your boss so you can call him over and get promoted if you just miss out, Work from Home to make sure you won't just miss out - you know the drill. The final process is quite mechanical and reasonably quick.

(By the way, if anyone is wondering about the idiosyncratic titles of these blog entries, you need to listen to more 80s Hair Metal. That hint, plus Google, should reveal the last of my secrets here ;) ).

I like to muck around a bit on the last generation. See if you can get all the plants up to Perfect, or make everlasting Ice sculptures - that sort of thing. Master as many skills as you can. Complete skill challenges. By this point in the game there is little challenge, so make a challenge. Have one Sim left over, and just make them do whatever whacky things you've been allowed to do for a while but haven't bothered with. Some players like to send their Sims back to University and collect multiple degrees - whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, thanks to asking for promotions from the boss occasionally, and the odd day missed because of festivals balancing out, with 12 days as a young adult remaining:

and a few hours later on the same day:

The Apocalypse is over, and the Instruction ends. I hope you've enjoyed this, and perhaps even learned a thing or two. I haven't revealed all my secrets, but I like to think I've been a gracious host.

What Happens Now?
I sincerely hope by now you're getting tired of just reading about the Apocalypse Challenge. If you've been following along with your own attempt, then I hope you were successful, and if you weren't, remember that it wouldn't be a challenge if it was trivial. If you're still struggling on through, persevere!

And if you've finished, then if you're anything like me, you'll want to take a bit of a break. It's a long challenge, with many hours of real time consumed, and you've maybe got a book to read, or another game to play, or even other Sims 3 diversions you've been postponing. But sooner or later I hope you'll feel the siren song pulling you back.

This time, make it harder. Try for the Hard Start. Do more of the prestige options. As I write this we're gearing up for an Apocalypse Challenge tournament - which is actually something I've got to get cracking on helping set up. I hope to see you there!

And in the meantime, may you never need to know the plural of Apocalypse...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ball and Chain: Dating Made Easy

When we left last time, the heir Mary had just finished lifting Art Appraisal. I mentioned briefly that Social Networking, once you unlock the ability to use it, is an awesome skill, and I promised to elaborate in this post.

In an Apocalypse, what is the ideal mate? I'd argue that it is:

  • A young adult, the younger the better, ideally one that was a teenager the previous day.
  • Good traits. Yay to Ambitious or Workaholic, but not so much Clumsy or Grumpy.
  • In a career that has not yet been lifted, and as far along in that career as possible.
  • All the skills they'll need to lift that career.
Fair enough? That covers pretty much anything you could reasonably desire, right?

Perhaps your founder was able to find such a mate, if she used her contacts at University effectively. Maybe your first generation heir was as well. But if you're anything like me, you've been pretty hit and miss with most of these points, if not all of them. Speaking for myself, I have terrible luck with the first option; sometimes I've been unable even to tell the difference between adult and elder in species such as aliens, and while my friends on Facebook assure me that there are definite graphical cues to distinguish between young adults and adults, I confess I am usually unable to spot them. A large part of my preference for female founders and heirs is directed towards the fact that an elder male spouse can still bring in the next generation, but an elder female (or female about to transition) cannot.

"Well OK Gaz," you might say, "but what has that got to do with Social Networking?"

Social Networking fulfils two goals. Firstly, it allows you to specify what sort of mate you want. Fire up the Sim Finder app and you'll see something like this:

You can't specify a career, or skills. However, you can specify the gender, age, and traits you want your ideal mate to have. If you've already lifted Master Thief then you don't care that much about career (as you can have them quit and take the career of your choice). And skills are definitely one area of the game that given sufficient time can always be acquired.

I suppose you could tailor the sign as well if you like, but I have about as much interest in Sims astrology as I do IRL. So I don't usually bother; I've never had any problems romancing anyone I needed to, and even if that were not normally the case, it's certainly not going to be a problem here (as we'll see).

The only restrictions that will remain for the final generation to lift are Forensics, Rock Star, and Sports Agent. None are particularly exciting, but easily the lowest maintenance is Rock Star via the Singer career, as to a large extent that is pretty much 'fire and forget'. With any luck at all Renee and Sarah will lift Entertainment and Movie Director in the next couple of days, which means that the prospective spouse will be able to even attend (outdoor) venues. Compare that to Forensics (requires Athletics, which any self respecting teen of mine will already have 10 in, so no need to waste that on a spouse) and Sports Agent (requires Jock 10, which means a delay of probably at least a day or more while I gather the necessary influence) and we'll see that Rock Star is the best choice here, even if I do it via Music instead.

So, I select:

and hit Find A Sim. A match! Pedro will be around momentarily!

He'll do. Now, normally, you'd need to do the usual buttering up, flattery, and friend making (see earlier posts for how I approach this). After all, he's a Stranger:

But I'm not done with the Sim Finder yet. Since he's on my relationship panel, the Transmogrifier can do the rest:

Make them besties, and then just flirt with the guy. It really is utterly trivial to convert a best friend into a lover in the Sims.

Note that Social Networking essentially makes Charisma irrelevant. Oh, sure, you can use the two in synergy (use Social Networking to make the acquaintances/friends/best friends you need for the challenges), but honestly it's not even necessary - if the relationship you want ever dips, you can just transmogrify it back to what you want it to be. No muss, no fuss. It's about the most powerful thing to do in the game that doesn't involve cheating, and it comes to any Sim willing to read a few books or even just make some blog entries. (The exact restrictions on Social Networking are, at the time of writing, still being discussed; the general idea is that Gamer will be required to use Social Networking at all, and Espionage will limit using the Sim Finder and Transmogrifier apps. Personally I think there's scope to add Alien Technology in as well, but we'll see how that comes out. In any case, it's certainly legal for me here).

A little flirting, and within less than a Sim hour:

One private wedding later and we're set. His traits are exactly as advertised, and he has 19 more days until he is an adult. He's currently unemployed with a lifetime wish of Hit Movie Composer (sorry dude, wrong branch). And he has no skills. But we can work on that. (I believe that the Sim Finder will create a Sim according to your specifications if none already exist - that's why no skills, no LTR points, and so on - but that's not a bad thing, that means you can use it to populate the world with whatever traits you like just by wanting to meet such people).

While Mary and Pedro are working on the next generation, I decide to make use of my new Architecture + Art Appraisal powers:

I have converted my second basement level into the library. There are 168 rooms here, each with a bookshelf (and a light, but that's unimportant). Each is accessible by at least 1 door. Since every bookshelf you buy (I just bought Sturdy Bookshelves) has 1-3 random books in it (besides any skill books), this is more than sufficient to clear The Copious Librarian. As an added bonus, any ghost or visitor that wanders off in search of something to read is going to be gone a while.

I get Pedro a job as a Singer. He joins Renee and Sarah at the park to perform for tips, but Renee isn't hanging around:

Entertainment lifted. Sarah isn't hanging around either:

So that's Movie Director lifted as well. And a day later, the new triplets Tina, Ursula, and Victor are born. That is actually one more than I need, of course.

With 5 more days as a young adult, Patricia lifts Paranormal:

However, it will be useful to have a spare adult to help look after the kids, and since I have enough now to finish the challenge, I keep her around. The same day, Mary becomes an adult, and the triplets become toddlers.

The first thing Patricia does is cart the toddlers one by one off to library to read them the toddler books. This is extremely fast, so once it is legal you should absolutely do this.

Thanks to this, the toddlers not only get all the books out of the way, but they also manage to get the peg box and the xylophone skills as well (including, of course, the usual toddler skills). They transition to children when Quentin and Patrician transition to adults. On the same day, Quentin reaches the top of the Mystic branch:

At present he is at 6/8 perfect plants, and 2/13 perfect aquarium. It's time for him to get the part time job in the Mausoleum. And just before midnight on the same day, Pedro lifts Rock Star:

I move him out. He did all that in 13 days, during which time he was never actually at home. :)

Just after 0500 the next day:

(This is why it's handy to have that as a lifetime wish - make the computer keep track!) So it's just the part time job, and the fish, to go. I have done a little genetic resequencing to give Quentin the Angler trait to improve that; as it is now winter, I'm going to have to stick to ocean fishing for a while.

If you're struggling with the fishing requirement, here are a few tips:

  • Learn the right bait. Carl's Sims 3 Guide not only tells you what bait you need for each fish, but also where those fish can be found in common EA worlds. You cannot always get the bait you need; for example, you can't buy cheese (the bait for Alley Catfish) or eggs (the bait for Rainbow Trout). But use it where you can to greatly improve your chances of snagging a perfect fish.
  • Make sure you have the Angler trait. It can be difficult to get the fish in a timely manner otherwise.
  • You can speed the process considerably if you have a Sim with Science skill. Buy a Science Station, and use it to take samples of any fish that are less than Perfect. Then clone the sample, and you'll usually get an improvement - sometimes straight to Perfect, if not you can repeat the process starting from the improved version. (Nothing says you have to catch the fish - you just have to have the fish).
  • Be aware that the more expansions you have the more fish that can be caught. The more expansions you have the easier this can be. If you have World Adventures and you absolutely must, unlock the ability to travel and catch your fish while time stands still.
  • There are some possibilities to acquire "forbidden ingredients". If you use one of the performer careers to lift Entertainment, Movie Director, or Rock Star, and you are allowed to perform on stage, then perform as early as possible - you want to be bad at it. The audience will throw things at you - sometimes they'll throw food which will land in your inventory. It is usually of poor quality, but a Green Thumb that has the power to plant eggs or cheese can fix that given time. However, this is a desperate measure at best.
The Science Station is the big help. I managed to get all the perfect fish in 3 days:

With 19 more days left as an adult, Quentin lifts Naturalist:

Two restrictions to go. Three child Sims. Normally, I'd move out Patricia and Quentin at this point and take one of the kids with them. However, there is that Admirable Adonis restriction - if I want the prestige credit, then all the kids have to get to 10 Athletics first. So to be honest, I might as well hold on to the twins so that they can be personal trainers once the triplets reach teenage years in 5 days. (A side note on this. In previous versions of Sims 3, children could gain a hidden skill called "Child Athletics" that would transfer over to the real skill when they became teenagers. As far as I am able to test, this no longer works; children can still work out, but they get no skill for it. Let me know if you experiment and prove this to be incorrect).

So, once they are in fact all teens, the training begins:

I'm aiming for Tina to lift Forensics and for Ursula to lift Sports Agent - Victor is basically superfluous. So I'm also raising Ursula's Jock influence with the table tennis table.

As they reach Athletics 10, I have Tina branch out into Painting and Logic (which she'll need later), and Ursula gets tutored in Social Networking by Mary (she'll need that later in Sports Agent, and it will enable her to unlock the Charisma requirements she will also need). With almost everything unlocked I send the teens out for driving lessons, they attend after school activities, and they even go on field trips. All the fun to be had - it's the last time I'll ever have teens, so they might as well explore a bit. The adults I keep busy with learning new skills like Sculpting (Quentin), looking after the bees (Patricia), or tutoring the kids (Mary).

Once the triplets become young adults, it's time to take stock:

  • Tina is Ambitious, Artistic, Athletic, Brave, and a Workaholic. She has just joined Law Enforcement and will take the Forensics branch. She has the skills Athletics 10, Charisma 2, Cooking 3, Handiness 6, Inventing 10, Logic 10, Painting 10, Writing 8, Advanced Technology 1 (from the sonic shower).
  • Ursula is Ambitious, Athletic, Friendly, Genius, Over Emotional (bonus from Jocks), and a Workaholic. She has joined the Sports Agent career (bowling and table tennis set that up), and has the skills Athletics 10, Charisma 3, Cooking 7, Handiness 3, Logic 10, Social Networking 10, Writing 3, and Advanced Technology 4.
  • And all you need to know about Victor is that he has Athletics 10.
It's time to clean out a bit. Mary, Patrician, and Victor move out, leaving just Quentin behind to look after the garden (not that I ever eat, or anything - I have 6 Motive Mobiles, 2 Moodlet Managers, and enough food in the super fridge to last out another Apocalypse).

We're coming to the end. The next (and final) entry will lift the last two restrictions, and give a general round up of how everything went. See you then!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Don't Give Up An Inch: Clearing Away For The Home Stretch

When we left off last time I had just achieved all of my kids being at least Children. (Don't miss the important update at the start of that post, if you read it before - thanks again to Jennifer!) I'm about ready to clear a pile of restrictions now - 7 in total.

By this point if you've been anywhere reasonably lucky you'll have partial to full control over your fate (meaning you've lifted at least one of Master Thief, Military, and Journalism - and ideally 2 or more). You should be able to plan - either directly, if you've lifted all of them, or indirectly by having plenty of Sims to choose from and thereby making at least some of the choices strong ones.

Some general tips to live by:

  • If you've cleared both Education and Symphonic, don't ignore locking wishes and generating Lifetime Reward points. You can use Midlife Crisis to switch your traits around as you focus on different things; for example, you can be a Friendly Athletic Genius as a teen, only to transform into an Ambitious Workaholic when you enter young adulthood and decide to focus on the right traits for your career.
  • If you've lifted Alien Technology, remember that Criminal should be lifted as soon as possible to unlock the Moodlet Manager. Beeline for that over everything except a Tier 1, as the Moodlet Manager allows you to be a lot more active as soon as you reach the teenage life stage. Once you get this, you never need to sleep, eat, shower, socialise, or have fun. You can do all of these things (for example to get the Well Rested moodlet), but you don't have to. And you can effectively ignore such factors as fatigue, feeling bad about the death of a loved one, bad consequences for cheating, and many others. There are many other Alien Technology rewards that are very useful too, but most of those are covered by Science which is a good lift anyway (unlike Criminal).
  • Try to minimise non-productive time. You can't always be having fun while skill building, but you can swap things around. For example, have your kids work on their Writing until they're sick of it, and then play chess until they're having fun again. Work out until you're fatigued, and then play kicky bag until you're no longer fatigued so that your Athletics skill still builds. Or make a snow angel for virtually instead Fun.
  • Unless you're looking at something like Artist where time is really of a premium - and even then, possibly - try to get as many life-stage-only skills as you can. Most kids can build their Cooking on the toy oven in about 10 or so goes, which at 3 tries per day (assuming you've lifted Culinary and not Entertainment) is only 3 and a bit days, and a relatively small amount of time each day. 3 instant points of Cooking is something you're unlikely to have cause to regret later, especially since you can live off the muffins and brownies for ages. Similarly, try to have your toddlers read as many books as possible. While it's true that you may well never need those Cooking skills or whatever, in my opinion Apocalypse Challenges have a way of going wild at the most unexpected times, and for the low low price of a few hours in your childhood that might otherwise get you from Logic 8 to Logic 8.5, you can ensure that you'll be able to survive on Peanut Butter & Jelly if you need to rather than risk burning the house down by cooking hot dogs.
  • Where you can, have other Sims help out. Don't try and water all the plants and feed the fish while lifting Naturalist - other family members are allowed to do that; let them. Have your other Sims write books for the Copious Librarian to read. Large families can make some restrictions a lot easier to lift. With Gardening in particular, having other Sims water the garden (which even teens can do, regardless of Entertainment) will eventually give them a point in Gardening, which will give them a random set of seeds. You can pass these to the Naturalist Sim and have her plant them.
The day after becoming a teenager, Oliver gets his masterpiece:

With 8 days to go as teens, both Mary and Nicola are now 10 Athletics. Neither of them have the Athletic trait, and they didn't get any practice as kids - but if you can zap away fatigue, it can go quite quickly. Admittedly I also had Fast Learner on both of them as well; generally you should have 15k LTR points by the time you are a teenager, and that's a good first pick. I had Nicola use the treadmill while Mary used the radio, and then once Nicola got to 10, she trained Mary on the treadmill. Quick Burst followed by Moodlet Manager = fairly rapid Athletic skill. Both also now have Multitasker in addition.

Unfortunately I only am allowed one easel, and with Oliver still tying that up to get to 10 Painting, the oldest twins are not going to be preloading Painting just yet. However, I can and did put them to work getting their Rebel influence up. And in any case I didn't really have to wait that long:

I then switch Oliver to writing, and Nicola turns to the easel. Once she gets to Painting 10, she starts writing books and Mary starts Painting. What about Rebel influence? Well...

Both Mary and Nicola have used Street Art to paint the floor and the walls, reaching Rebel 10 a fair while back. They got started with kicky bag, and then once they were high enough to get the street art bag, used that instead.

While this was going on, Quentin and Patricia both got to 10 Athletics (Nicola trained Quentin, who then trained Patricia). Quentin has plenty of free time until he gets to young adult, because Naturalist can't really begin until then. I experimented a bit and I am of the belief that Push Self is actually more efficient at raising Athletics than Quick Burst is, given the smaller number of breaks - but feel free to see if you agree or not.

On day 178 of the challenge, both Mary and Nicola transition to young adults and take the Art Appraiser job they are offered. Time to take stock:

  • Mary has the traits Ambitious, Artistic, Charismatic, Friendly, Over-Emotional, and Workaholic (remember she is a 10th level Rebel). Her skills are Athletics 10, Cooking 3, Street Art 10, Handiness 4 (from fixing broken computers), Logic 6, Painting 3, Writing 9.
  • Nicole has the traits Ambitious, Artistic, Friendly, Genius, Over-Emotional, and Workaholic (again, level 10 Rebel). Her skills are Athletics 10, Street Art 7, Logic 5, Painting 10, Writing 8.
  • Oliver has 4 days until he becomes a young adult. His traits are Artistic, Bookworm, Friendly, Perfectionist. He has Painting 10 and Writing 10; he has done all the painting he needs to do (still-life of an elder, portrait of an elder, and masterpiece). For Writing, he needs 4 more best sellers (has 4 hits and 1 best seller at the moment), and is currently earning $2325/week in royalties (needs $4000). Not part of the restriction, but remember he's also got to get Athletics 10 before dying as well.
  • Patricia has 6 days till young adult; her traits are Ambitious, Charismatic, Clumsy, and Friendly. She has the skills Athletics 10, Cooking 4, Logic 10, Writing 7.
  • Quentin (Patricia's twin) is an Ambitious, Easily Impressed, Friendly, Green Thumb; his skills are Athletics 10, Logic 8, Writing 5. Remember that with Entertainment still in effect I cannot learn Gardening yet, but that's not really a big problem as he'll naturally increase that once he starts the garden. For the moment he's training his younger twins in Athletics.
  • Renee has 11 days until young adult, with the traits Charismatic, Clumsy, Couch Potato, and Hates the Outdoors. (These are not ideal for an Acrobat, to say the least). She has the skills Athletics 9, Logic 9, Painting 3, Writing 5.
  • Sarah (Renee's twin) is a Couch Potato, Easily Impressed, Inappropiate, and a Natural Born Performer. Her skills are Athletics 6, Logic 10, and Writing 4. (Quentin is currently training Renee; once she's at 10, Sarah will get his attention).
  • And of course Ivy is still alive, at 92 days old.
The usual lifetime rewards have been prioritised (Fast Learner for all of them, many have Multitasker and Entrepreneurial Mindset, and the oldest also have Steel Bladder and Dirt Defiant) except for Oliver who - since he'll never do any a day's real work - instead is an Acclaimed Author (plus Fast Learner, Dirt Defiant, Steel Bladder). Note that Dirt Defiant, Hardly Hungry, Steel Bladder, and similar are not getting as much use since I routinely just use the Moodlet Manager, but might as well get them as not. The youngest twins need some serious genetic resequencing, but you can't get Midlife Crisis until adulthood.

A few hours after Patricia and Quentin become young adults, Oliver lifts the Artist restriction:

He got his final best seller. This breaks the "no commands to elders" restriction on Ivy, who - as The Admirable Adonis - can train Oliver in Athletics before the two of them leave.

Both Patricia and Quentin join the Fortune Teller career, and I grab a bunch of claw pots to grow plants in. Unfortunately there are 10 days until spring, and all the lakes are frozen, so no fishing yet. (If this were not the case, it is actually more efficient to go fishing first, to collect fertiliser). Don't forget to surround your plants with a fence and a locked gate! Otherwise when the next full moon comes, zombies will eat all your precious veggies! It's certainly easiest to plant with the pots, as you can have them inside, but if you don't have the plant pots expansion, then you can have your garden underneath the roofed area. If you haven't cleared Politics yet, you'll be cramped for room either way, but it's manageable and I certainly wouldn't delay Naturalist just because Politics hasn't come up yet. If you'll recall the only reason I've lifted Politics early is because it came up before I had the option to try for something better.

Another trick with the Moodlet Manager. Suppose you're about to go to school, or to work, and you notice that the energy bar is low, but not low enough to have caused a moodlet. However, it will certainly tank at work, which will drop your mood and make you less efficient. You don't have time to sleep. Well, the Moodlet Manager can still help. Instead of using "Cure", use "Zap". That will usually drop your energy to 0, which will mean that you can follow up with using "Cure" to maximise it.

Oliver reached 10 Athletics, so he and Ivy got kicked out. And then there were 6.

Annoyingly, if you have two Sims in the same career, and they both get promoted on the same day to the "split point", it doesn't tell you which of them the popup message applies to. With Mary and Nicola this means that I had to guess, and I guessed wrong, which put Mary in the Appraisal branch and Nicola in the Acquistion branch. But no real harm there.

However, I cannot - must not - let this happen to Patricia and Quentin. So I will deliberately delay Quentin's promotion from level 5 to level 6. Properly done, I don't even have to miss a day here - I can have Quentin just miss out, and then get the promotion by calling the boss after work.

A few days later, the last two twins became young adults. They've been mostly just writing novels till now, having reached maximum Athletics, Logic, and Writing some time ago. I do some genetic resequencing on each, and then get them employed in their respective careers.

Let's do a quick checkpoint now:

  • Mary (the heir) has 12 days to go until she's an adult, and is at level 6 of Art Appraisal/Appraisal branch. She has Athletics 10, Charisma 1, Cooking 3, Street Art 10, Handiness 6, Logic 6, Painting 10, and Writing 10.
  • Her twin Nicola is at level 8 of Art Appraisal/Acquisitions (mainly because the split point happened when Appraisal gets 2 days off, and Acquisition doesn't). She has Athletics 10, Charisma 1, Cooking 3, Street Art 8, Logic 8, Painting 10, and Writing 10.
  • Patricia (18 days till adulthood) is at level 3 of Fortune Teller. She has Athletics 10, Charisma 3, Cooking 6, Logic 10, Painting 7, and Writing 10.
  • Her twin Quentin is also at level 3 of Fortune Teller. He has Athletics 10, Charisma 2, Cooking 3, Fishing 1, Gardening 10, Logic 10, and Writing 5.
  • Renee has just transitioned to young adult, and after resequencing has the traits Charismatic, Computer Whiz, Friendly, Natural Born Performer, and Over Emotional. (Computer Whiz may seem an odd choice; however, Ambitious and Workaholic don't help with the Showtime careers, and she plays games on the computer to raise fun, so I figured I may as well improve that process). She has Athletics 10, Gardening 1 (from watering Quentin's plants), Logic 10, Painting 3, Writing 10; as previously noted, she's going to become an Acrobat.
  • Renee's twin Sarah has identical traits (for much the same reason). She has Athletics 10, Gardening 3 (she's watered more), Logic 10, and Writing 10 - she's going to become a Magician.
The eldest twins (as well as Patricia) each have their own Motive Mobile, and the family has a Collection Helper and a Moodlet Manager. As may be inferred from the above list, between the 6 of them they have written a lot of books. Just these 6 have written a total of 60 books, including 14 hits and 11 best sellers; total weekly income from royalties is $24596. And Ivy and Oliver had both written a lot as well.

Now, arguably, one should not improve one's Athletic skill before attempting a Showtime career. The reason is that if you delay it, you can increase your skill and get job performance credit. This is entirely true. However, it isn't necessary. Since I have a Moodlet Manager, I can essentially Perform for Tips until I get fatigued, cure the fatigue, and get right back to it. This is sufficient to get the bar moving. It's not the optimal method, but don't feel if you accidentally got 10 Athletics before becoming an Acrobat (or Magician) that you have somehow snookered yourself.

If you're doing this before Naturalist - as I am - then for at least half the year, it's bitterly cold. So it is useful for performing Sims to be Immune to Cold (if you have lifted Medical); I buy this even over such stalwarts as Steel Bladder.

While I have the youngest twins performing for tips all through the night in a performance park, I have Quentin reading Alchemy books for his eventual split on to the Fortune Teller/Mystic path. Note that the rules say we can't use the Alchemy bench until we've lifted Paranormal; however, it is entirely legal to learn the skill from a book (assuming of course you have the book). Mary and Quentin are hanging around the library when not otherwise engaged; Mary is studying Social Networking because it is a tremendously awesome skill to have especially for an heir (as we'll see next post).

Nicola is first across the line:

This lifts Architect, which removes the restrictions on how valuable my stuff can be. She then moves out - and then there were 5.

A tip for the performing careers - make sure you get a point of Charisma first. You will effortlessly complete the Super Friendly and Celebrity challenges just by constant performing for tips (and have a decent chance of Everybody's Best Friend as well).

A couple of days after Nicola, Mary lifts her restriction:

Mary is now about to go husband seeking. That will be covered in the next post.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Poor Boy Blues: Kid Mania

UPDATE: It turns out that there is a very handy feature that I was unaware of. If a toddler has the sleepy or exhausted moodlet, you can click on the moodlet and they will go to sleep immediately. This also works for moodlets like Starving (will go to the fridge or grab food that is out), Grungy (will shower), and so on. Use this to significantly lower the pain of your experience should you try to emulate my 7 child shuffle. Thank you to Jennifer for the tip!

When I left off last, Mary had just become a child, Nicola was ready, Oliver was screaming for food, and Ivy was giving birth to twins (Patricia and Quentin). In 7 more days she'll be an elder. In 10 more days, Mary and Nicola will be teens.

With a little basic arithmetic there, you might note that this means there will be a 3 day period where the kids are under the supervision of an uncontrollable elder. That is true. But it's really nothing to be particularly concerned about - all the kids will be children at that point, so it's not as if she'll be constantly getting them out of bed.

Let's take stock. I have the following restrictions still in effect:

  • Architecture
  • Art Appraisal
  • Artist
  • Entertainment
  • Forensics
  • Movie Director
  • Naturalist
  • Paranormal
  • Rock Star
  • Sports Agent
I have a completely free choice since I've lifted everything relevant to choice (Journalism, Master Thief, and Military are sufficient, but I've lifted Science as well). I must lift Art Appraisal, since until I do that I cannot buy multiple bookshelves, which I'll need to do in order to clean up Copious Librarian. Of the rest, Naturalist and Paranormal have prestige options. I'm not going to do the Paranormal prestige requirement; having 25 ghosts on the lot (even supposing you're able to collect them all) is not my idea of fun. You'd need to start this one early, which means you'd have to put up with ghosts trashing your queue every night for most of the challenge, often several times a night. That requires more patience than I possess.

I'm also not going to do the Amazing Naturalist. With the collection helper unlocked I certainly could do this, but it would simply drag things out.

With those decisions made, both Paranormal and Naturalist are good things to lift. I have 5 kids, and for the other two this generation I'm going to lift Architecture and Artist. The simplest way to lift Artist will be to have a child excel at Painting and Writing; I'll do that with Oliver. Mary will lift Architect via Art Appraisal/Art Acquisition; Nicola will lift Art Appraisal via Art Appraisal/Appraisals (note that this means they can use Rebel interactions with each other to efficiently raise their Rebel influence). Patrician will lift Paranormal, and Quentin will lift Naturalist.

The thing that is disappointing is that I only have 5 kids. If Wayne wasn't been the Emperor of Evil, I'd invite him around to get Ivy pregnant again - but Emperor of Evil tanked her relationship with him. But nothing says that the father of the spares has to be the same guy. One of her coworkers will do fine.

While you're raising a pile of toddlers, it's handy to have Business cleared. The old general rule still applies: try not to waste your Sims' time. Sure, one of your Sims can empty a potty, but if you have Business cleared, you can just sell it and buy another one.

So Ivy had another pair of twin girls (Renee and Sarah). I'll have Renee concentrate on Entertainment while Sarah does Movie Director. Since I have come to dislike the Celebrity system, I'm going to opt to do these via the Acrobat and Magician professions. With the house now full with 8 Sims, let's take a head count:

  • Ivy, the much beleaguered mother. She has 3 days to go until she is an elder, or to put it another way, the latest set of twins are not going to get much in the way of training.
  • Mary (Ambitious, Artistic, Friendly), currently a child with 5 days to go, who will lift Architect (via Art Appraisal/Art Acquisition).
  • Nicola (Ambitious, Friendly, Genius), currently a child with 5 days to go, who will lift Art Appraisal (via Art Appraisal/Appraisals).
  • Oliver (Artistic, Bookworm, Friendly), currently a child with 7 days to go, who will lift Artist (via Comforting Children).
  • Patricia (Clumsy, Friendly), currently a toddler with 1 day to go, who will lift Paranormal (via Fortune Teller/Scam Artist).
  • Quentin (Easily Impressed, Friendly), currently a toddler with 1 day to go, who will lift Naturalist (via Fortune Teller/Mystic).
  • Renee (Clumsy, Couch Potato), a just born infant, who will lift Entertainment (via Acrobat).
  • Sarah (Couch Potato, Easily Impressed), a just born infant, who will lift Movie Director (via Magician).
Note that neither of the latter two sets of twins had perfect pregnancies, and the just born set had both traits random. That's not a terribly big problem as I can genetically resequence them later - perhaps even as children, definitely as teens. There will be an extremely dodgy couple of days between Ivy becoming an elder and the oldest twins becoming teens, as at that point Renee and Sarah will still be toddlers. To handle this, I will lock the doors to their rooms and have them sleep on the floor; children cannot let toddlers out of their cribs, but they can feed them. You may recall I recommended against this in an earlier post, and it's still generally a bad idea - but if the alternative is starvation, let the little monsters scream.

The thing to remember about the life stages is as follows:

  • Try to be in a good mood throughout most of your pregnancy. I was hampered here by being the only adult in the house; a single teen or other adult would have allowed me a brief Motive Mobile trip, but as it was I could stay neutral with the Moodlet Manager, but couldn't avoid the Sore Back moodlet as birth took place at home (again, couldn't go to the hospital because it would have left the kids at home). As long as you can stay in a good mood, you'll get to pick both of your baby's traits; if you have a yellow mood, as I did for the latest set of twins, they'll both be random (and in between you might get to pick one - I had this with Patricia and Quentin).
  • It doesn't matter what mood your infants or toddlers are in. If the toddlers learn all three toddler skills (potty, talking, walking), you pick the trait; otherwise, it's random. So if you can't teach them all three, don't bother to teach them any at all - just have them read the skill books.
  • With children and teens, it's all about their grades. If they get good grades, you pick the trait; if they don't, you don't. Their mood is largely irrelevant (except inasmuch as it makes it easier to get good grades); however, you should usually find by the time they are children you have no real problem keeping their mood up.
Yes, toddlers are annoying when you feed them late, or leave them in the crib while you attend to their siblings, but as long as you can teach them the three skills, it doesn't actually matter. (Though obviously don't take this too far - they can't die, but the social worker can still come).

Fairly quickly I meet the first requirement for Oliver:

Ivy will be an elder in 2 days, and she's already best friends with Oliver, so he can complete the requirement for painting a picture of her then. Note that it is absolutely allowed to lift Comforting Children quickly - if you can complete all the requirements as a child, it's allowed. (I'm not sure if it's even possible to do that, but if there is a way, be assured it's legal).

With Ivy's birthday coming at any time, I locked the door and moved the toddlers:

They're not exactly thrilled with this plan. But I did teach them both how to potty, so it could be worse, right? It's only another 2 days until I have teens that can look after them. Of course by that point they'll only be 1 day away from being children, but compromises are like that - nobody gets exactly what they want.

Now, it is true you'll have to put up with a lot of crying and screaming from the toddlers. Just harden your heart. You should have gotten used to things like this back at the start anyway - by this point, you're a hardened professional at ignoring toddler discomfort, am I right?

After putting up with the screams of one night, the newly elder Ivy took her aggression out on the martial arts training post. Oliver captured her essence.

Toddlers have all 6 mood bars. As a child, you can feed them to take care of hunger, you can play peek a boo and hug them to help with social, and they can read toddler books for fun. They'll eventually pass out, to take care of energy.

That leaves bladder and hygiene. Even if they're potty trained - as mine were - their hygiene will still fall; children cannot change the toddler's nappies, which is the only way to restore hygiene. Consequently, at some point your toddlers - if left to be cared for by children - will tank hygiene. This means that they will constantly trigger "Noisy Sim", and anyone on the lot will be awoken (even if on another room, on another level of the house, with locked doors between them) every time they try to sleep. The only recourse is to wait until the toddlers finally collapse from exhaustion.

Sometimes you can get away with a nap. But basically, this is just something you're going to have to put up with. It's hardly fair - note that the toddlers can be happily playing with their books and still trigger this just because they have a dirty nappy - but it's survivable. They don't stay awake forever, and even if they did, they'll eventually grow into children. (This whole "queue stomping" nonsense is one of the things I desperately hope Sims 4 dispenses with. It wasn't funny with ghosts, it isn't funny with crying babies, and I'm hard pressed to hypothesize a situation in which it is funny). Generally speaking Sims with the Heavy Sleeper trait will sleep through it - so keep that in mind if you foresee a situation where you might have to deal with dirty toddlers for a while.

However, there is one thing you can try. Elders will, on occasion, autonomously change a toddler's nappy. You can try and trigger this, but be very careful. The thing you want to avoid is that the elder will put the toddler in a crib - since if they do, the toddler may never get out again until they become a child, and that is a waste of all that skill book reading time. So either lock the room with the cribs in, or just flat out get rid of the cribs. This is not an ideal solution - you don't really want the elder interacting with the toddlers, as it is rarely an efficient use of their time - but it is probably worth trying to trigger this just to get the kids to sleep. (And getting woken up will tank their fun meters as well). You have a decent chance of getting a bit of a snooze while they're screaming that they're low on energy, but eventually that will wake you as well.

You can see why I didn't advise this course of action. It is one borne of necessity, not choice. (Well, assuming you agree that having 7 kids instead of only 5 counts as necessity).

Oliver completes his portrait of Ivy:

I know, it's very dark. He's probably a neo-Gothic artist. But it doesn't have to be a good portrait. With this complete, Ivy is no longer needed, but there seems little need to kill her off at this stage. I am reasonably confident I can lift Artist before she dies, and then she can just move out. Besides, she has Hardly Hungry, so she could take ages to die.

When Mary and Nicola become teens, I have them both immediately start on the treadmill. When they are not at school, they can train on the treadmill a lot, since the Moodlet Manager can remove the fatigued condition. I'm having them play kicky bag while their sister is on the treadmill, so that Athletics and Rebel are both improving constantly. It is, of course, a high priority to get my teens started on (and ideally finished on) Athletics as quickly as possible - should I forget, then the Admirable Adonis disappears.

The next day, the final two toddlers become children. They had a far from ideal pregnancy, infancy, or toddlerhood, so they got random traits. No problem, I can fix that with genetic resequencing later.

In any case - with no more toddlers, this phase is over. I'll pick it up next time as the 7 siblings proceed to make their various lifts.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ride the Wind: Travelling For Time Freezing

With only 20 days remaining until Ivy becomes an elder, and 30 Sims to train, it was looking bleak for the Admirable Adonis. But there was a solution: World Adventures!

Now, a cautionary note. Travel in the Sims is notoriously buggy. I wouldn't even attempt it without using Twallan's Traveler mod installed. And save frequently. It is risky, and things can get really badly glitched.

So why bother? Well, apart from a few minor things that are far from useless (like storage chests), the important thing to remember is that you do not age while on vacation - indeed, no time passes at all. So if you can unlock the ability to travel, you can arbitrarily increase the amount of time you have available. That can be very useful for restrictions that are not career based.

I'm going to go to China first, because I want to get Pangu's Axe.

Remember that the Apocalypse is world wide. All restrictions still apply. In particular, this means that I can't sleep on the ground (though inside a tomb is underground - that's OK). I'm going to need to get some visa points so I can buy a vacation home, but in the interim the Martial Arts temple has exercise equipment that I can use to train with.

Incidentally, in case anyone was still doubting Alien Technology, notice that the Motive Mobile comes with you when you travel:

Hop in that and all your motive problems are solved.

So I have Ivy training Karen in the Martial Arts Academy, James off an adventure, and I sent Lilandra to the market. The first stop is the book store, but remember: bought books do not count for the collection portion of the Copious Librarian. I'm after recipes, skill books, and the like. In addition I grab the Chinese specialities - a board breaker, a training dummy, and a Jiangzhou's Chest. (Fortune Cookie makers are too expensive with Architecture still in effect). I also grab a generous helping of high quality dried food, some showers in a can, and some tents.

James and Lilandra go off on adventures. Ivy trains Karen until she gets fatigued, then trains visiting Sims at the martial arts academy while Karen practices chess and waits for the fatigue to fade. It only takes two sessions to get the 10 hours with Karen:

But there's no point quitting until she is at 10 Athletics, really. The sessions with the visiting Sims are often short and interrupted, which was a major concern of mine for the 10 hours per Sim rule, but it is manageable since they tend to stay close by and I can usually get them into another session fairly soon.

The first trip to China was fairly average. I managed to train Karen, Lilandra, and James (sure he was already at 10 Athletics, but that isn't part of the restriction - useless training still counts) for 10 hours each. I also got 5 other random Sims about 19 hours and change between them. It's a decent start. It does demonstrate however that I definitely wouldn't have time without a trick like this - 3 days in China, and I only managed to score 3 Sims, so in 20 days one would suggest I would never make 30. And this is with the Motive Mobile allowing a quick trip to fully replenish my mood, mind you. Alien Technology - don't leave home without it.

I didn't manage to get the Pangu's Axe quest but I did get both James and Lilandra to the second level of visa, so once "travelitis" wears off I'll be able to come back for longer. (Unfortunately I kept getting offered the assassin bug adventure; I'm not allowed to collect insects yet anyway, but even if I was, without a Collection Helper I'm not even going to try that). Karen and Lilandra both need to get to 10 Athletics, but theoretically I could dump James at this point.

One thing I mustn't delay much longer is getting married; I decide to have Ivy hang out at the gym during hours she's not at work, and perhaps find herself a husband.

In the meantime, Karen has finished the reading portion of the exercise:

It's better to do the reading first, since the number of books you've read contributes to how much the royalties are for those you write. As you can see, as soon as the next royalty check comes, she'll be done, but I'll have her write a couple more anyway.

After completing a few quests, I was curious as to why the Confounded Boulder adventure (the one that kicks off Pangu's Ax) hadn't appeared. A bit of experimentation with Master Controller kicked Error Trap into a frenzy, and I was unable to find the adventure even with Master Controller. So I used testing cheats to delete the adventure board, and I'll see what happens when I return to China. But other than that, the second trip went OK; Ivy has now trained a total of 8 Sims for 10 hours each and has a bunch more partially complete. There's really no question that this technique will work, but it would work a lot better if I could get more Visa points and plonk down a vacation home.

Karen already has Athletics 10, and then she cleared the last of the writing challenges:

Along with James (who had Athletics 10 ages ago), I move these guys out. I've met a promising looking Criminal that will do as a spouse, but I want to get Lilandra to Athletics 10 first. This didn't take long:

As I get rid of Lilandra, I am having Ivy flirt with Wayne-the-Criminal. Now, normally Criminal is not exactly something that is high priority once Master Thief is lifted, but in this case I want to unlock Moodlet Manager, so that's what I was hunting for.

After I get him to 10 hours training, it doesn't take long to get to the proposal point:

And then I have Ivy marry him. Returning from the gym in the Mood Mobile, they immediately go to work on the next generation. Wayne is already a Con Artist which means he's one promotion away from the Criminal/Master Thief choice. He has Athletic 8, Guitar 3 (which I remove with Master Controller, as it is not legal for him to have that) and Social Networking 1. His traits are Disciplined, Equestrian, Evil, Light Sleeper, and Slob, and he comes with 4 books that go towards the collection. He's going to need some genetic resequencing, but the try for baby is immediately successful and comes with enough LTR points for Ivy to get Fertility Treatment without wasting her saved Moodlet Manager points. The bad news is that he's only 8 days away from becoming an elder, but that should be manageable.

At the point when I send the new couple to China (with Ivy not yet showing as pregnant), she has successfully trained 11 Sims for 10 hours each. Still keeping back enough LTR points for a Moodlet Manager, she has managed to get Prepared Traveller as well, so even with the level 0 Visa she's still able to score a 6 day trip. It would of course be handy to have a better Visa level, so I decide to have  Wayne try for that. But it appears that there is still nothing on the (newly spawned) Adventure Board except untouchables (meditating/finding bugs). This is very much on the "annoying" rather than "debilitating" list; I have trained 16 Sims by the time I return, with a few more started, and I am fairly confident reaching 30 will not be a problem. I'll just have Wayne work on his logic skill next time. In your game, and in future games of mine, I suggest having only one Sim at a time pursue adventures. There is a way to reset them outlined here but that is something I choose not to risk for the sake of this blog.

Ivy is now visibly pregnant, but still able to train people at the gym. Unfortunately she can't travel, but fortunately the window wasn't too long - a few hours after she would have been able to travel, she gave birth to Mary and Nicola. To celebrate, after getting pregnant again, she headed back to China (solo this time - I don't want to worry about infants while travelling, and I can't take both adults without them). There are 3 Chinese trainees that I want to finish with, and then the rest can hopefully be completed without further travel. It goes reasonably well; when I return I have trained 20 Sims, and by my calculations have about 46 hours or so to go of training to finish up, all of which can hopefully be done at home (since that way it counts as if I'm looking after the kids).

Shortly after Oliver is born, Wayne finishes Criminal:

He still has 2 more days until he becomes an elder. With Workaholic, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial Mindset, and Multitasker, he was able to manage this very quickly - useful, since Ivy only has 9 days until she's an elder as well, and she has 5 more Sims to train - she's not going to be doing any mothering, and indeed will be an elder before any of her offspring are teenagers. That's not necessarily a problem, though it's also not exactly ideal.

But now that she has a Moodlet Manager, she can Cure any Sim she's training to remove (amongst anything else) the Fatigued moodlet, so it should go quickly from here. It took another couple of days, and then the Admirable Adonis was achieved. This was more tedious than hard.

With less than a day to go before Wayne becomes an elder, I decide to move him out. The Emperor of Evil aura has a tendency to tank relationships, and as an uncontrolled elder that's a recipe for disaster. It does mean that Ivy must quit work, but that is acceptable.

As a single parent of multiple kids, things can get a bit hairy. Mary and Nicola's birthday announcement came, so I immediately got cakes for them. In the process of Mary having her birthday, I suddenly got "the baby is coming" - and all this while Oliver is yelling and screaming in his crib, and Nicola is complaining of exhaustion. It's just one of those things - it can be managed, as long as you're careful. The really tricky bit occurs when you're an elder, and before you have teens - I'll look at that next time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Strange Days of Uncle Jack: Alien Technology and How to Deal With Glitches

As far as the challenge is concerned, Alien Technology is completely optional. And certainly in some instances, it can be quite tricky to lift. Check out The Think Tank - who has time to do all of that at University? Who would even want to try?

You should. If your founder has a Science degree, you should absolutely try and lift Alien Technology. It is rare and hard because it is probably the most powerful restriction in the game. It is all about the lifetime rewards. Note that all of them have some other restriction as well, but regardless they are extremely powerful.

How powerful? Compare Criminal to Master Thief. If your opinion on these restrictions even slightly compares to mine, then you'd have to concede that Master Thief was much stronger - indeed, the only real reason to clear Criminal is access to a better bed.

But if you have already lifted Alien Technology, then it becomes a much closer choice. It will all hinge on how many LTR points you have - specifically, whether you can afford a Moodlet Manager or not. If you can, or if you will be able to soon - perhaps you've almost lifted Symphonic, or you are about to finish a LTW - then Criminal may well be the best bet. Consider:

  • Master Thief is not valued so much for its own immediate effects - those are really just "can skip work without getting fired" which is, admittedly, useful if you're using Generations - but rather because it unlocks the ability to effectively choose your next job. So you can go after Culinary, or Medical, for example.
  • But Criminal means you can buy a Moodlet Manager, which in turn means that Culinary and Medical are much less valuable lifts! Anyone of teen or older age simply zaps themselves with the Moodlet Manager whenever they get tired, or hungry, or lonely, or stressed, or dirty, or need to go to the bathroom.
You never have to sleep, you never have to eat, you don't even have to worry about Fun or Social if you don't want to. And that's just one of the rewards that Alien Technology allows. There is also the Collection Helper (invaluable if you're going to lift Naturalist), the Motive Mobile (the best argument to play with Generations, or at least the second best if you like bunk beds), and many more. Alien Technology is worth your investment. Don't get distracted by the "optional" nature; if you see an alien visit your lot, or if you find your founder has to pursue a Science degree, make the attempt. It will pay great dividends eventually. There's a reason whenever some new feature is added to the game and the challenge needs to be adapted, that one of the first proposals for anything awesomely powerful is to put it under Alien Technology. That's where the awesome stuff is.

Anyway, Harold is ready to move out now. He has 19000 LTR points, which is not enough to buy any new Alien Technology objects, so I just kick him out.

Proceeding with the plan, Ivy gets his first game at the sports arena. She has Athletics 10, spent the previous day preparing for the game (at a cost of a promotion for the day), and has a reasonable relationship with her team mates - she even got to the game early to prep. So she should win easily:

One of the things you have to get used to in the Sims is that no incarnation of it has ever been bug free. Since inception, Sims 3 has had the promotion after midnight bug for the Criminal career; since the introduction of "multibuildings" this Athletics bug has existed. Multibuildings are the buildings that were introduced in an early expansion to make better use of town space; they are a single building that fulfils multiple careers. Specifically here is the Crestville School and Stadium, which combines the School and the Stadium.

Most multibuildings work fine. The only disadvantage is they count as one building for the purposes of real estate, so there are less buildings for your Sim families to buy (assuming you've lifted Business and, if you want to buy it outright, Politics). But if you combine the Stadium with any other building, then you will always lose every game that your professional athletes play there.

The general rule with the Apocalypse challenge is that any reasonable amount of "cheating" is allowed to fix bugs. This is a glitch I was in fact previously aware of, but neglected to check for when I set up the game. So what I'm going to do is destroy this building and place a school and a stadium separately:

I bulldozed this, and then went into Buy/Build and found "Community Objects":

There are two stadiums; I chose the Llama Memorial, but you can have Llama Co if you prefer:

Go back out to Edit Town, and set the lot type to "Visitors Allowed". Give it a name:

Ignore the warning that it has a special building on it. It will work fine.

For the school, there was a deeper problem - there are no empty lots to place it on. So the first thing to do is rectify that. In Appaloosa, there is a blank spot behind the stadium that looks like it will hold a school, so I go to World Editor and place a 50x25 square there:

Change the type to "Visitors Allowed" and place one of the schools there, same principle as the stadium. I went with the Community School for the Gifted.

I haven't noticed any specific bugs with any other multibuildings, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find they exist. Use a similar technique if you encounter them.

Now, when you do this, you may well find that you lose your job:

Remember: we're allowed to cheat, within reason, to fix glitches. Ivy was a Rookie with about 70% of her bar filled. If you have Master Controller, here's how to restore that. Click on the Sim, select Nraas->Master Controller->Intermediate:

Select Career->Choose Job:

Find the job you want and select the tick button. Then select the Sim again, to bring up the Career menu. This type, select "Level", and pick the level you were at. Finally, do the same thing and select Job Performance, and then set it to whatever your bar was at, roughly (I'm conservatively selecting 50). You should end up with something like this:

If you're lucky, it will even remember your team mates and restore those as well (it partially did for me).

Now, I know anyone reading this blog would never do anything like this, but let me stress just for completeness: this is not a licence to cheat. If your Apocalypse goes south and you find yourself in danger of losing, don't cheat. Do the best you can. In a tournament you're allowed a certain number of cheats to save things (it just costs you points); play honestly. These techniques (and Master Controller in general; Pescado's AwesomeMod has similarly powerful abilities) can obviously trivialise any game if you use them like that, but you're not going to have much fun if you play something challenging and cheat as soon as it starts to get hard. I've gone on at length here to show you what to do to fix glitches, and I'm sure it will be taken in that spirit.

As expected, once we have a stadium on its own, things are very different:

Nothing has changed except the building; if anything, her relationship with her teammates is actually slightly worse. A bit later I get the Motive Mobile which is really good for getting promoted quickly (since you always arrive at work with full mood) - the Moodlet Manager will have to wait for Criminal.

Anyway, pushing on, eventually:

As you can see, I have lifted Athletic, Espionage, Journalism and Gamer. It is day 141 of the challenge. It's not quite time for the next generation though - I said before that I was going for the Copious Librarian and Admirable Adonis prestige options.

NOTE: at the time of writing, there is some dispute here about how these work. For the purposes of this blog, I am assuming that the restrictions are lifted already, and that the prestige stuff is effectively just extra points.

Ivy (the athlete) has 20 days to go until she becomes an elder. While (as you can see) she has completed all the challenges, she has not yet trained anyone and must train 30 Sims 10 hours each. That's a total of 300 hours; not really enough time until she becomes an adult to do this. Also neither Karen nor Lilandra have Athletics 10 yet.

Karen (the journalist) has completed all writing challenges except Speed Writer (and she's close to that, with $28568 of $30000 needed). She has read 97 books, and will easily make the 100 book requirement. But my collection of books stands at a pitiful 19 - I need 100.

Abandon the prestige? Well, I'm not ready to roll over. Having lifted Espionage, Military, Politics, and Symphonic, I am allowed to travel to foreign lands. Having also lifted Business, I can buy a house there. This immediately lends itself to a strategy. Since time stands still while on a World Adventure, I can make use of the extra time to train more Sims (foreign Sims, most likely, after James, Karen, and Lilandra are trained). Since I'll need to increase the amount of time I can stay, I can have James explore tombs and complete quests. We'll tackle that next time.