I was one of the lucky few to be invited to The Sims 4 Creator’s Camp at EA headquarters last week. I learned a lot about the game while I was there and thought that I would share some of that with you. To start, I will be discussing careers and school.
This is a rather lengthy article, but I wanted to cover as much as I could on the subject, so please bear with me.
Both the type of career offerings and the way a Sim progresses through their career have changed. There is now a checklist that a Sim must complete before they are promoted. The first item on the checklist is always performance, but there are often other items as well. However, even performance is a bit different than you might remember it from past games.
Both the type of career offerings and the way a Sim progresses through their career have changed.
Let’s start with the similarities in the way performance works. The performance meter is there to measure your sim’s daily level of success at their job. Going to work in a good mood and arriving on time will increase it, coming to work in a foul mood or arriving late or missing work entirely will lower it. However, with the advent of emotions ‘good mood’ now means something different. Whenever your sims needs are low, the will most likely enter the ‘uncomfortable’ emotion. This could be lack of food, lack of sleep, or in dire need to use the bathroom or shower. Low social and low fun have their own emotions, but they are just as negative as uncomfortable. Showing up to work with one of those will certainly lower your performance, so the whole gameplay mechanic of rushing to top off needs before work is still very much in tact.
Things change a bit when you talk about ‘good moods’. There is a genericly good mood emotion. It is called ‘happy’. Eating good food, being in pretty surroundings, having pleasant interactions with friends and family, and having major life milestones (like getting married or having a baby) will make a Sim happy. To be clear, work doesn’t mind it at all if you come in just ‘happy’. You’ll still need to increase your performance. That said, happy isn’t the ideal emotion for all jobs.
Every career has an ideal emotion, and if you can make that emotion the dominant one for your Sim when they leave for work, your work performance will increase even higher than it would if they were happy. In my testing, both careers that my two adult Sims held (Writing and Performance) favored “Inspired” as the ideal emotion to have at work. And indeed having that emotion did have a very positive uptick on their performance score, often maxing out in one or two days.
Every career has an ideal emotion, and if you can make that emotion the dominant one for your Sim when they leave for work, your work performance will increase even higher than it would if they were happy.
However, maxing performance is not the only item needed for a promotion. In the Sims 3, having the required skills or friends would *help* your performance bar, but in the Sims 4, they are required items. And they are very diverse too, even within the same career. For example, to get a promotion in my first level of the writing career, I needed to practice writing for three full hours AND overcome writer’s block once, in addition to maxing out performance.
I had to actually use the ‘practice writing’ action on the computer; diving into my first book wouldn’t count. Writer’s block is something that came up after a few hours of writing. It gave my Sim a writer’s block moodlet that made them tense and unable to write again. Now, the moodlet wasn’t permanent and would expire on its own over time, but my job wanted me to ‘overcome’ it.
When my Sim became tense, their emotional whim was suggesting a way to deal with the situation. In my sim’s case, she wanted to give herself a pep talk in front of a mirror to calm herself down. This made perfect sense as my Sim was insane and often spoke to herself and other objects. After about 30 minutes of yelling at herself in the mirror, she fulfilled the whim. This also made the expiration time on the ‘writers block’ moodlet count down much faster than normal. Soon she was free from her writer’s block and able to write again…and she had fulfilled the job requirement. (I later discovered that writing while inspired made your sim resistant to writer’s block so you could take measures to prevent it in the future).
There is one last item that the career wanted, though this seemed optional. Every career has a daily task it wants done. For the writing career, it was to write. For the entertainment career on the comedy route (my Sim’s husband had this job) it was to write jokes. It did not seem to be strictly required, but doing it help your performance a little and not doing it can hurt your performance.
Once all the items are checked off and your sim goes to work, they finally get their promotion. The big cash bonus upon promotion is back and is just as welcome as it was in the past. Also back and greatly expanded are career reward objects.
At almost every level of every career, you seem to get a career reward object. You get one of these objects for free just by unlocking it (placed in your family inventory) and gain the ability to purchase it from the catalogue. These reward objects are all themed to the career in question and are all helpful.
The big cash bonus upon promotion is back and is just as welcome as it was in the past.
For example, the reward for reaching writing career level 2 is a computer… an OLD, OLD, ancient, oldschool computer. Great for writing…not so great for playing gamed. In addition to getting a computer for free, there is one more perk that came with reach level two. It gave an emotional aura. I’ll elaborate more on emotional auras in our Emotions article, but essentially, it helps make your Sim inspired by being near it. Inspired is exactly the emotion you want to be in when writing. Side note – This computer is likely a reference to George RR Martin’s legendarily ancient computer that he uses to write the Game of Thrones series on.
Like in past incarnations of The Sims series, school is treated like a career for children. And just like the new adult careers, the school ‘career’ now has specific objectives that must be met to be promoted. Getting ‘promoted’ in school is what you need to raise your grades. All children start out as C-students. Getting them a promotion will make them a B-student, while letting your grades slip would likely get them ‘demoted’ to a D-student.
Homework is back, and is school’s requested ‘daily’ task. The ability for adults to help kids with homework returns, but is tweaked a little. Getting tutored in homework will put a student into a ‘focused’ emotion, which greatly boosts intellectual persuits and makes them do their homework faster. This also greatly builds the relationship with their mentor and can leave the mentor in the ‘confident’ emotion. Focused is also listed as the ideal emotion to send your children to school in. However, I found it very difficult to get a child to enter the focused emotion besides doing homework with help…which sounds about accurate. However, one of the requirements to get to a B student is to send your child to school once in the ‘energized’ emotion, which is a bit easier to pull off. I did not get a chance to play a child into a teenager so I don’t know what benefits a child receives if they keep their grades high, nor did I get a chance to test what happens when your child’s grades drop too low.
Collecting plants and rocks, growing and selling produce, writing and publishing books, and many more ways to make a living are available to you.
Retirement is also back. Once a Sim becomes an elder, they can retire from their career. They will then get a daily pension check equal to a small portion of their former salary. Nothing stops your elder Sims from continuing to work full time.
Lastly, if you don’t want your Sim to work a normal job, there are still a variety of ways to generate money that doesn’t involve a traditional career. Collecting plants and rocks, growing and selling produce, writing and publishing books, and many more ways to make a living are available to you.
Other miscellaneous career observations:
- Sims cannot leave from a community lot to go to their careers, they will return home first, then go to the career.
- There are no carpools, Sims simply walk off the lot.
- You cannot observe a Sim’s needs while off at work; though the game is clearly simulating them and Sims still can eat lunch if they are hungry and use the bathroom if their bladder gets low automatically while at work.
- You may still choose between ‘work modes’ such as ‘socialize with co-workers’ or ‘work hard’ to modify work’s impact on your Sim and their needs and performance.
- There are no visible rabbit holes; when your Sims leave for work, you cannot see where they are working, similar to The Sims 2.
- Chance cards are back and allow you to pick from options to give potential benefits or penalties to your Sim related to their job.
- The world still follows the 7 day calendar and every job has different days that are marked as being worked or being off. The work panel gives you a handy countdown to the total days/hours left before your Sim is next scheduled to work. It does not appear like you can force them to work longer or on days off.
- Maternity leave does not appear to be forced. My 3rd trimester Sim was still able to attend work and gave birth two hours after she came home.
- Every single career now has two paths you can take within it. This mirrors some of the old Sims 3 careers, but now is universal. How different the two paths are will depend on the job. The two flavors of the writing career (author and journalist) both involve writing, but the two flavors of the entertainer career (Comedian and Musician) each focus on a very different skill.
Here is a full list of all the careers and their branching paths. I only played with the writer and entertainer (and school) careers during my time at Creator’s Camp, so I don’t have more detailed information on the others beyond the names.
- Entertainer: Musician/Comedian
- Writer: Author/Journalist
- Painter: Master of the Real/Patron of the Arts
- Secret Agent: Diamond Agent/Villain
- Criminal: Boss/Oracle
- Astronomer: Space Ranger/Smuggler
- Culinary: Chef/Mixologist
- Tech Guru: eSport Gamer/Start-up Entrepeneur
I hope you found this information helpful on what to expect with careers and school in the Sims 4!