All Settled In

It’s been a few weeks since I announced moving my blog to its own domain at http://www.starwingsims.com/  and I’m all settled into my new home on the web now 🙂  I wanted to invite you to visit my new site, if you haven’t already!  I’ve set up Google+ for my Followers, in addition to the Posts-by-email subscription option, and both are found in the right sidebar of my new site.

Google+ is an exciting alternative for my Followers, because it isn’t exclusive to WordPress users.  Now you can Follow Starwing Sims even if you aren’t a blogger, or you use another service for blogging.  Please update your subscription choices to keep up to date with my Sims stories, videos, custom uploads, game tips, and reviews and first impressions of other games you might be interested in.

Thank you for all your support!!

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Moving to My New Domain!

Hey there!  I just wanted to let you know that I’m moving to my own domain now 😀  I’m currently working on setting everything up for you, but you’ll be able to catch all my newest content (and comment on posts) at http://www.starwingsims.com/

Please update your bookmarks and email subscriptions!  Thank you so much for all your support ❤

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Uncertainty Principle: Chapter 27

View the story log
Read the last chapter

Joshua wished he could be part of Darren and Daria’s wedding celebration, but the investigation into Skylar’s disappearance was the highest priority in his life, aside from his own family.  As soon as he learned about Ricky’s encounter with Skylar the day after she went missing, he gathered a team to investigate the scene.  He chatted with Thandi Lee, one of the residents of Harmony House who worked with him at the Agency.  “What does your gut tell you about this case?” he asked her.

“I don’t know,” she replied hesitantly, before she opened up.  “Something just doesn’t feel right about this case, Agent Lords.  I arrived here via the Tube, and it’s just a short walk from the platform to Mr. Jordan’s front door.”

“He stated that she came from the river,” Joshua explained.  He pointed out,  “However, if she rode the Tube here, she would’ve had to walk by the front door, unless she got off on the far platform, near the quarry.”  Thandi agreed with his assessment, and he told her, “You go around the front, and I’ll scope out the path back this way.”

Thandi followed his instructions and searched along the side of Ricky’s house.  Joshua carefully inspected the small area at the back of Ricky’s house and made a voice recording of his observations.  When the young agent met up with him again, he requested that she make a mold of what appeared to be an impression of a bare foot in the sand near the back door.

He walked over to the edge of the rocks and looked down at the river bank, while he continued to make audio notes with his cellphone.  “From the back of the residence, there’s a clear view of Highway 7.  Closed circuit cameras at Burger Stop would’ve had a perfect view of this location.  Why wasn’t she seen on any surveillance cameras?”

He looked over his shoulder at the young agent making a cast of the impression in the sand.  He added to his recording, “Agent Lee continues to be the most impressive rookie, in my opinion.  She’s the only one I see really thinking about the evidence and what it means, while her peers still refer to the Agent’s Protocol Manual to figure out what they should be doing on a case.  Remember to put in a recommendation for Agent Lee’s promotion.”

Joshua called Thandi over and said, “While that cast dries, let’s examine the river bank for other impressions.”

“Sure thing!” Thandi agreed enthusiastically and raced toward the river.

“Report any thing you see that isn’t supposed to be there!” Joshua reminded her.

Joshua took his time when he got to the river bank.  He remembered what it was like to be a rookie agent–fresh out of basic training, and almost fanatical about the job—but it wasn’t like that for him, and this case was also personal for him.  He needed to take his time and completely absorb every detail of the scene.

When he stood at the edge of the river, he felt a surge of emotion come over him.  He felt alone, and a sense of anxiety quickly transformed into intense terror.  He resisted the urge to scream and focused his mind on the soothing sound of the flowing river.  Just then, he noticed a small book of matches in the tall grass beside the water.

Joshua reached down and picked up the matchbook with a pair of tweezers.  Just as he sealed up the evidence in a plastic bag, he heard another male agent shout, “Hey, stop them!  Don’t let them get away!”  He ran up the hill to Ricky’s backyard, and spotted some youngsters run around the corner of the house.

“What’s going on?” Joshua demanded to know as he reached the back of the house.

One of the other rookies who was out of breath managed to reply, “A couple of kids—they were poking around and might’ve tampered with the evidence.”

Joshua chased after them and ended up following them into the Tube as they tried to evade him.

“We did it!” the rebellious teens cheered together after their exciting sprint across Oasis Springs.  They successfully eluded the intelligence agents that followed them into the Tube, and then decided to visit Desert Bloom Park to avoid looking suspicious.

“I can’t believe we made it out of there without getting caught!” Jessalyn Riese exclaimed.

“The way you handled that guy was totally epic,” Dade complimented her.

“You think so?  Thanks.”  She smiled before saying, “I’ve never done anything like that.  I mean, I always used to sneak around when I was little, but that was something else!”

“I guess so, but you could be a secret agent someday.”

She laughed nervously. “Maybe…  So what now?  Do you want to go back home?”

“Nah…  I was thinking we could just hang out for a couple hours, until school lets out, and then we can sell this stuff to Jared.”

Jessalyn nodded and smiled, saying, “That’s a great idea!  I didn’t want to go home yet.  Actually, the thought of seeing my mother’s hideous face makes me sick.”

“I know what you mean,” Dade sympathized as they walked across the street to the park.  “My mother has the world’s deepest voice of any female ever, and sometimes I’d rather eat glass than hear her talking!”

They went inside the clubhouse at the park, and Dade asked, “Hey, can I borrow your phone and copy the videos you took?”

Jessalyn nodded and handed her phone to her friend.  She watched him make a quick copy of the videos she’d recorded while he was taking photos of the agents searching the river bank.  As she watched him, she thought about how experienced he seemed to be when they were spying on the intelligence agents, and it gave her an idea.

“This is great material,” he said again before passing the phone back to her.

“Can I ask for your help with something… personal?” she asked.

“I’d be happy to help you with anything.  Seriously.”

“I really, really hate my Mom,” Jessalyn began.

Dade interrupted her by joking around.  “I should let you know that I don’t do hit jobs.”

She laughed nervously.  “No, seriously.  I want to find my Dad.”  She looked down when she said it, and he heard vulnerability in her voice.

“That’s all I’ve wanted my whole life, as long as I can remember,” Jessalyn confided, and Dade listened respectfully.  “I don’t know anything about him.  I don’t know his name, and I don’t even have any memory of his face.”

Dade’s heart went out to the girl he considered his dream date.  “I can relate,” he said as he nodded slowly and thoughtfully.  “I guess there must be records somewhere.  Were your parents ever married?”

“I don’t think so,” Jessalyn shook her head.  “If they were, my mother never took his name.”

“Another thing—I don’t think my baby brother, Owen, has the same Dad.  He has different facial features, and my Mom treats him different than me.”

“Oh…  I’m really sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t worry about it.  But just keep this between us, okay?  Please don’t tell anyone else about this!”  When he promised to keep her secret, she stood up and thanked him before embracing him.

His heart raced out of control as he held her in his arms, barely able to believe it was happening.  Just as he began to wonder if he should pull away, she sighed and told him, “You’re such a great friend, Dade.”

“You too, Jess!” he replied with a bright smile.  He broke the awkward tension he felt by suggesting, “Let’s take a picture of our first successful spy mission, shall we?  This could be history in the making.”

She playfully teased him, “You’re as geeky as I am, Dade Starr!” before posing with him for a photo.

Meanwhile, Varvara met up with her former housemate from Harmony House, Ariadne Stavros.  “Hi, Ariadne!  Thanks for meeting me,” she greeted her friend at the edge of Desert Bloom Park.

“Thank you for inviting me, V.  How are you?”

“I’m doing all right,” she answered, then corrected herself.  “I’m happy.”

“That’s good to hear, but everyone’s worried about you,” Ariadne explained.  “Zaida is a worried mother hen, and Martialis is getting prepared for some kind of fight!”

“I don’t mean to make anyone worry,” Varvara swore to her friend, “that’s why I called to let everyone know I was safe.”

“I know, but we’re going to worry regardless,” Ariadne explained.  “We’re like a family here, and we all care so much about you.”

Varvara frowned and apologized.  “I’m staying with a man I met,” she explained.  “He’s a former military man, so he’s able to protect me and then some!  Please tell everyone to stop worrying about me.”

“I’ll do what I can,” Ariadne offered.  Finally she changed the subject and shared her own news with her friend.  “Dustin and I are dating now, and he’s just as sweet as you would’ve imagined him to be.”

Varvara finally looked happy when she congratulated Ariadne.  “He has such a mad crush on you; I bet he’ll treat you as well as Jared treats me!”

“We should go on a double date sometime!”

Varvara looked heart-broken when she replied, “I don’t know when I’ll be able to do something like that.  I’m only out right now because I know my enemy is at a wedding as we speak, but I really need to stay out of her sight.  Maybe in a few weeks.”

(continue reading…)

Posted in Sims 4 Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mobile Game: SimCity BuildIt

I’ve been meaning to share some information about Other Games with you, just in case you’ve been looking around for something to add to your game collection.  I decided to start things off with another EA game, but this one is for mobile devices (Android).  Here are my first impressions of the game.

Click on the image above to check out the app in the Google Play Store.

It would be wrong for me to not tell you upfront that I don’t recommend this game for any serious gaming!  It’s a mobile game that is like any typical Facebook or browser-based game that’s supported by in-app purchases.  It also has timers upon timers that prevent you from playing the game seriously.  In my opinion, this game is only good for a distraction while you’re waiting for an appointment, transportation, or something else that forces you to sit around doing nothing.  This game is slightly better than doing nothing…

As soon as you accept the terms and agree to them, your game will start off with a sim talking in Simlish to you, just to make sure you feel like you’re playing a Sims game.  This feels really intrusive and silly after a while, I must say.  The speech bubbles serve as a tutorial, which is helpful at times, but the Simlish speech is just a silly gimmick.  That’s only my opinion, of course, but I always felt that SimCity is better when you pull back from the sims a little bit.

Moving along, in the beginning of the game, the player is hand-held through everything, but after you get into the game a little bit, you can change things around and redesign your town as easily as you move around rooms in Sims 4.  I guess that might be the reason behind making this game look similar.

Drawing roads with this app isn’t as easy as this little slide might make it seem!  I’m sure drawing roads on a small screen would be especially cumbersome–I only felt comfortable drawing roads with my phone’s stylus.  If you plan to play on a tablet, this probably wont be an issue for you, but you should keep it in mind if you plan to try this for killing time when you’re stuck waiting for something.

Your first road has to be built where the game tells you to draw it, which is annoying.  I just started playing the game, and I already felt like I wouldn’t have any creative freedom while playing it–and that’s the only reason to play a game like this!  I pushed on with the tutorial for my loyal readers though; I really feel I should tell you about this experience after all you’ve done for me, so you’ll know what to expect from this mobile game.

The next step was to place a “residential zone,” which would be more accurately referred to as a lot because it’s one building.  Your lot will start out as a single family residence that you upgrade over time.  In the screenshot above, you’ll notice the thought-bubble above the lot has a hard hat and a check mark icon; this signifies that the requirements for upgrading have been met.  You tap on the thought-bubble to see what materials are needed and complete the upgrade, if you’re ready.

You earn bonus population, coins and level points by upgrading the residential buildings.  As you upgrade the lot several times, the requirements get more challenging.  Also, you end up having to build factories and building supplies commercial outlets to produce the materials you’ll need for the lot upgrades, and that’s where the timer games begin.

The first utility you’ll be asked to add for your citizens in your little mobile town is electricity.  To reduce the pollution levels, I went with wind power to start off with.  If your town grows large, you’ll need to consider other options for powering your city, and you may find that another option serves your needs better.

This panel shows the Services and Specializations menu, which is where you will access all the services and special attractions your town will offer to its citizens.  In the early stages, all you’ll need is power, water, a town hall and a fire department–but always wait until the citizens ask for these things before you spend money on them.  Adding them to your town before they’re needed will waste resources you need for making your population happy.

Here is my little town after I reached level 2.  I’ve got my Town Hall over on the left side of the block.  I took this screenshot just before rearranging the layout of things–the Building Supplies store in the bottom left was just out-of-place.

You’ll see there’s some factories along the southern edge of my town also.  I moved those over after I sorted out the placement of the Building Supplies store.  I can see why they allow players to move things around and reorganize, because it’s too easy to place a building in the wrong spot with the touch controls and it would be annoying to lose resources and money over an accidental tap.  However, it does feel strange for a SimCity game, where part of the challenge is to create a nice looking city without wasting the entire city budget on fixing misaligned roads!

It’s probably best if the player just forgets anything they know about SimCity games, to be honest.  So this is where I’ll remind you about the timers on factories and building supplies producers… this is what makes most app or browser-based games unpleasant, and this game is no exception!  You have to produce some building materials and some need to be turned into building supplies while others are used in their raw form, or are sold for the cash you’ll need for other things.  Definitely DO NOT spend any money on this game!  I’m sure it’s affordable, but there are better things you could do with your disposable income, believe me!

After you play for a little while, you’ll earn the first achievement.  This rewards you with the in-game “cash” points that are needed for certain things, like upgrading the storage capacity for your building resources and supplies.  I never did manage to earn all the resources for that upgrade, and instead I just worked on strategically producing the goods I needed for my upgrades and building supplies production, and made some extra wood and steel to sell.  At least it does appear that you can play the game with strategy and just ignore the in-app purchases.

I needed to get some coin saved up for fire services once I completed the tutorial and was playing my own way.  Fire services might be the first challenge any player will face because the small fire department doesn’t provide much coverage for a growing town, but the large one is very expensive.  You’ll need to design your town to maximize the fire coverage without wasting money.

I took this screenshot to show you how the fire risk is shown in the service map.  When you have enough money to purchase a fire department, you just drag the one you want onto the map, and you’ll see a green coverage area displayed around the fire department, which will assist you with placement.  Move the fire department to the a location that covers as much of the red areas as possible.

When I had earned a little more coin, I ended up with a large fire department, centrally located, and two small ones on the outer edges of the town.  Here’s a picture of my town just before I decided to stop playing the timer game and leave this SimCity BuildIt thing until my next doctor’s appointment.

In this image, you’ll see I earned the Mayor’s Mansion already (in the bottom right corner, with a view of the little lake), and the City Hall is just a block away.  I have some tall apartment buildings and a few new homes that are just started.  Of course, those pesky sims are whining about the fire risk and I just decided that it’s a hassle that I’ll deal with when I’ve really got nothing better to do.

I know that’s not the best recommendation, but this game doesn’t deserve glowing praise or anything.  It is what it is, and I have found far more fun mobile games!  This one is good enough in small doses, mind you, and my favourite mobile games are so addictive that I end up playing for hours and hours!  That makes the great mobile games less suitable for killing time waiting for something, and I do recommend this game for that purpose.  Just don’t spend money on it 😉

 

 

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New Sim: Jillian Cottrell

I have a new custom sim in the Gallery, if you’re looking for a new addition to your town.  This is Jillian Cottrell, who dreams of being a best selling author.  She has a colourful sense of style, as you can see by this sample of her outfits (party, every day and athletic, from left to right), which comes from her Art Lover trait.  Her other traits are Neat and Bookworm.

Here’s a close up of her face in her everyday wear, with her stylish glasses on.  The glasses are used with her everyday and formal outfits.

She wears sunglasses with her athletic and swimwear outfits, and she wears no glasses of any style for party and sleepwear.  Here is a close up of Jillian without her glasses on; dressed for a party.

It’s nice that she does show off her pretty grey blue eyes from time to time, don’t you think?

Jillian doesn’t have any custom content on her at all, and she is available in the Gallery by searching for my OriginID, Starwing6.

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