Gaming

Sims 4: A Writing Tool

Writing has been a passion of mine for many years. In those years, I’ve discovered ways of finding inspiration for stories and characters, even when writer’s block is very much present. Right now, one of the easiest ways for me to dig up story ideas is to play Sims 4.

First of all, in any given household, you can have up to 8 characters. I’m generally concerned with the interactions of only 2-3 characters at a time, so household management isn’t an issue. (I will admit to having one Sim in the household who is wholly responsible for cooking, cleaning, repairing, and gardening–it makes things so much easier.)

Second, Sims have so many customizations, from their appearances to personality. I tend to have an imagined appearance in my head, and that doesn’t always easily transfer to the Create-a-Sim environment, but it’s good enough. Sometimes, it even prompts a change or new attribute in the character that hadn’t occurred to me previously.

Third, there are so many places to have characters interact. If they live in the same house, there can be conversations over meals, working out together, or hanging out in the hot tub. If they go to a karaoke bar, they can flirt over drinks, or show off their singing skills. Even the bubble blower has inspired me to have characters interact at a hookah bar parking lot. It’s not a 1-to-1 translation, but sometimes these unique details in the game can spark an idea.

At times, I will purposely create new characters that have already been established in my mind or my writing. From there, I add new elements that I’m mulling over, or simply watch things play out naturally. Other times, I’ll play any family and let those events feed into inspiration for a story I haven’t brought to the game. It’s flexible, and it all depends on what I’m focusing on.

Some other Sims 4 players have gone so far as to take screenshots and create stories around them–an idea I love. I don’t take part in this type of storytelling, but it shows that I am definitely not the only one finding stories in the simulation.

You may be wondering–if the Sims can’t actually speak English, how do I create dialogue? Full honesty: dialogue is easiest for me to write. The game itself does help, though, with the thought bubbles above the Sims, as well as the conversation options. If it’s two bro-type characters, I’m going to bring up sports and fitness techniques. If it’s two characters I want to be together, there’s probably flirting and exchanging numbers. With those general ideas available, I can create the spoken (or unspoken) words between the characters.

Another helpful aspect is watching well-established characters go about their lives. A few times now I’ve assumed my written scene was perfect, but once I witnessed an interaction or scene in Sims, I felt the need to change things. Sometimes the game gives you huge ideas, and sometimes it helps you make tiny tweaks.

Sims 4 can be an overflowing source of inspiration for all writers. Start with the basics, your characters and the overarching story, and create from there. Whether you use it for writing, editing, brainstorming, or just wreaking havoc on characters you don’t like, use it as a tool and watch the words you write come alive.

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Gaming

Legion Flying: Now What?

Yesterday, I finally nabbed the “Broken Isles Pathfinder: Part 2” achievement in World of Warcraft. This was no easy feat, as this has been my primary gameplay goal for literally weeks. After struggling in Suramar for longer than I’m willing to admit, I was thrilled to finally have true mobility in the Broken Isles. No more strategically traveling to flight points based solely on what’s nearby! Freedom to take on any quest! Easily farming Legionfall Supplies!

That said, now that I have flying, I need to make sure to have a focus for every play session. I’m still thoroughly enjoying the higher-level content (minus the Thwarting the Twins challenge), but I also have professions I’d like to expand and, as always, gold to make.

Here are some major tasks I’ll be rotating through:

  • Mythic dungeons – with an emphasis on running my own keys
  • Farming Nethershards for higher level gear (iLevel goal = 900, currently 888)
  • Weekly raids (especially those with Class Hall rewards)
  • Herb farming for Herbalism/Inscription
  • Fishing in Broken Isles to max out my Fishing skill, and to farm food materials
  • Building a solid pet battle team, with 1 max level of each type
  • Classic dungeons & the accompanying achievements

I’ll be starting with herb farming today, because I want to stockpile Inscription supplies so I can put up glyphs and Vantus Runes on the Auction House every week. I’m not sure if I’ll change my focus daily or just do what I feel like on any given session, but having specific goals narrows the chance of running around the game aimlessly.

My biggest challenge will be Mythic dungeons. I currently run them randomly with friends, and I’ve only run a key of my own once–and failed miserably. I’m confident I can avoid depleting my keys with solid groups, so I’ll be reading up on strategy guides, watching runs on YouTube, and running more Mythics in general.

As noted above, my current iLevel is 888, but my goal is 900. Farming Nethershards in the Broken Shore is the easiest way to get the gear, but I lose interest in grinding World Quests for both emissaries and Nethershards rather quickly, so I don’t want to binge too hard on this task. I’ve accepted I’m not going to be the best DPS, or even the best Hunter, but I feel the 900 iLevel will definitely make me feel more confident when applying to Mythic or questing groups.

Essentially, I’m switching one major goal for multiple smaller ones now that I have flying, and I’m excited to see how much progress I can make. I hope everyone else is enjoying the freedom as much as I am!

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Gaming

Marksmanship Hunter: Stepping Up My Game

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In the (many) years that I’ve been playing World of Warcraft (WoW), I’ve always been afraid of the higher level content–from raids, heroic dungeons, and even some achievements. I simply avoided group content unless someone I personally knew was playing with me, despite many great experiences with complete strangers.

For Legion, I’ve been focusing on my Hunter, instead of my usual Druid. I even changed race and gender to go back to my favorite combo (female Night Elf) so I’d feel more “in tune” with my character. To start, I favored my last specialization: Beast Mastery.

Beast Mastery was lot of fun in Draenor, and it’s super fun in Legion. Hati is a fantastic companion, and being able to change her form makes it all the more exciting to customize your presence as a Hunter. Plus, who doesn’t feel super badass with a huge, legendary gun? That plus two beasts on either side? You feel invincible!

That said, I wanted to try Survival. Ooh boy did I love it, even more than I imagined I would! The awesome spear, the close action, the piercing DPS. I thought I had found my ultimate match, and even planned on sticking with Survival over Beast Mastery.

However, as I read Icy Veins guides, I realized I wasn’t going to get my damage per second (DPS) as high as I wanted without changing specializations to my last choice–Marksmanship.

Why the hesitation? Why was it my last choice? Well, my perception was that it would be too slow, that I would get hit often, and that I wouldn’t be able to master the move rotation. All of those fears have vanished in the last few months as I’ve focused entirely on upping my DPS for Marksmanship. I’ve allocated some artifact points to try to keep up my Survival and Beast Mastery weapons (for options, if nothing else); but I’ve mainly been grinding hard for Marksmanship, something I never expected I’d do.

To clarify–it is definitely not slow, I don’t get hit often, and I have zero issues with the rotation. As with any specialization, there’s a period of adaptation and a little bit of struggle, but it’s easily become my most comfortable spec. I now know exactly how to take down my enemy as quickly as possible with minimal damage on myself.

With this newfound confidence in my Hunter abilities, I’ve dismissed previous anxieties about higher level content and simply pushed into it. I’ve been doing random Heroic Dungeons daily, Raids whenever it benefits me, and am going after achievements I didn’t think I’d ever accomplish. In my quest to have better DPS, I’ve broken through barriers I had up for myself. I’ve explored all three Hunter specs, discovered all Artifact knowledge available to me, and completely changed my perception of the game, the Hunter class in general, and my own personal capabilities. After years of playing, I finally feel like an actual, full-fledged WoW player. Raids? Whatever. You want to do a Mythic Dungeon? Sure, alright, I can take it on. Legendary Creature that the Wardens want me to hunt down? You got it.

For anyone who plays comfortably in a cozy spot of familiarity, I can’t recommend branching out enough. Try something new, whether it’s a class or specialization. See what you’re capable of!

The only downfall? My video game ego is getting so big, I think I might try For Honor. HA! We’ll see what happens . . .