Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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Downton Abbey Meets The Sims 3, Part 6: How to Win Friends and Influence Bicycles

Violet cane
Iris Ophelia's ongoing effort to simulate
Downton Abbey in The Sims 3

With the Dowager Countess and her granddaughters back home at Downton after their jaunt to Sim France, it's time to get serious again. If Downton Abbey has taught me one thing, it's that the life of the Crawley family is far from that of the stereotypical idle rich. There's work to be done to better the community (and of course the family's standing within the community) and just about everyone needs to take part. It's time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and contribute....

... Even if it's only in the most superficial ways possible. Violet's expensive new cane, for example, contributes to the wellbeing of the community by making her look totally badass.

More tub problems

Sybil's bad photographyUnfortunately, Violet and the girls have returned to just as many bad omens as they left behind. The servants' bathtub seems to have been broken during The Great Tubocalypse, but no one's gotten around to repairing it yet. On top of that, Sybil's low photography skill means that all of the pictures she took during her tomb adventure are... Well, less than perfect, and definitely not frame-worthy. If they aren't blurry or corrupted, there's a thumb in front of the lens obscuring the shot. The only proof of her adventure are the relics she removed--and really, where's she going to put a bunch of mismatched gargoyles and pottery fragments? Her nightstand?

That's not the only problem Sybil has to deal with, either. When she makes it upstairs to her bedroom, there's a nervous looking little dog statue in a gnome outfit sitting on the bench at the foot of her bed, just in case you forgot this was The Sims and not a completely straight-faced recap of season 3.

Dog Gnome 2

This is one of a set of Mysterious Mr. Gnomes, one of the creepier easter eggs in the game, which can appear at random based on certain criteria. In this case Robert's close relationship with his dog Isis is probably the cause, though it's hard to say why this thing picked Sybil's room. Either way, both Sybil and I seem to agree that it's best to just let it be for now.

Bald Thomas

Thomas seems to have the worst of it though. In addition to going Stir Crazy (like Anna before him) he's sporting a new sheared hairdo that doesn't exactly suit him. I decide to get two birds with one stone by sending Thomas out for a little professional help.

Gypsy caravan

... From a fortune-teller, since that seems to be his destination anyway.

I spare no expense, naturally. Repeatedly the game asks me to make larger and larger donations for a more complicated and accurate reading, and I agree each time.

Fortune teller 2Finally, the fortune-teller delivers their advice to Thomas, and unsurprisingly it's completely useless. Money well spent.

I suppose I should have Robert's outlook on it all--it's the family's job to support the village as much as it can and so on and so forth, but with the family nearly bankrupt from Violet and Edith's incredibly expensive 15-hour nectar binge in Champs les Sims it's cold comfort.

Of course I could always sell all those relics Sybil found...

Shitty museum

... If the local museum weren't in such a pathetic state. Seriously, they have a box of tissues on display. Maybe they belonged to Willsim Shakespeare, or some other famous person with a better name to insert "sim" into or humorous effect (suggestions welcome as always.) Either way, it just wouldn't be right to sell all those ancient french relics while the local museum is prominently displaying fucking tissues on a marble pedestal. That's something that aristocrats who haven't managed their money well would do, not a Crawley.

Museum makeover 1

Thousand-year-old gargoyles, vases, petrified fruit and pottery fragments replace the museum's generic kitsch, and hopefully the community's esteem for the Crawleys rises alongside the museum's collection value. A flawless diamond cut in the shape of a crescent moon--which I considered hanging on to though even I can't imagine the Crawleys keeping something as gaudy as that lying around the house--is the new centerpiece of the renovated collection.

It's not too shabby, and the traffic to the museum increases dramatically before Sybil's even left.

Her contribution on behalf of her family might be the most concrete of them all, though.

Mary singer 1

Based on the morale-raising performances Mary gives at several points in the show, Mary's most tangible gift to others might be the gift of song. Sim Mary picked up a few tunes from locals and fellow travellers on her own while in France (tunes she now sings off key while bathing) but I decide to send her down the singer's path in earnest.

Unfortunately the first step in this particular profession involves delivering "Sing-a-Grams" in a cute little red uniform. Cute, but not terribly dignified. Small gigs and singing for tips are the next step, but I think we'll have to work on Lady Mary's ensemble before we go much further.

Edith's friend the bike

Meanwhile, one of Edith's best friends is a bicycle.

Like, an actual bicycle, with wheels, named Smooth Cruise.

And this isn't a glitch. One of Edith's traits gives her a love of vehicles, meaning that she can develop admittedly one-sided relationships with bikes, cars, and even scooters. I don't want to yuck anyone's yum here, but it's a bit weird. Edith needs a new hobby.

Now I recently installed the latest expansion, University Life, which among other things expands a lot on the features available through a sim's smartphone. Sims can now run blogs, and as much as I scowl at letting too much technology into Sim Downton, a blog seems like a perfect marriage of Edith's gossipy nature and later interest in editorial writing... And it's also a great way to get the town's attention. I toss a few names around with a friend, but eventually we agree on one: Downton Gabby.

Downton Gabby 2

I send Edith to the museum to write about Sybil's contributions first, including a slightly blurry photo of the diamond in its display. The museum is quite busy now, and even Matthew is nosing around, examining painting and chatting with outher visitors.

Now, I recently promised a very significant wish to Edith. She wants to have her First Romance, and she seems prepared to take things into her own hands when she runs into Matthew. Matthew's a nice guy so of course he's nothing but a gentleman, but Edith decides to take a big risk on a heat-of-the-moment kiss.

Edith's first kiss 2

And what am I going to do: Stop her, or take a million pictures?

Edith's first kiss 1

Edith's first kiss 4Surprisingly enough, this doesn't go very well. Whatever friendly relationship they had drops to nearly nothing, and Matthew seems to think Edith's being creepy to boot. It's time for a quick escape , and with any luck Matthew won't mention anything to Mary.

Molesley fatigues

As Edith's on her way out, I notice Molesley. In army fatigues.

Someone remind me to do a quick check on the lesser Crawley house soon? Things seem like they may have gone a little bit off the rails over there.

Downton Gabby 1

Now as fun as it is, the downside of Edith's blogging is that it requires a lot of direct action on my part. If I leave Edith to name her own posts she just picks random, generic nonsense. After yet another spat with Mary (which surely had nothing to do with that museum incident) I click on the "Gotta Blog About Being Mean" option. Edith whips out her phone (skinned in "Elegant White") and taps away. When I check to see what she wrote I see that it's her most popular post so far.

Downton gabby

... But it's also called "Personal Musings on Getting Fired", which is not exactly what I would call a post about two sisters yelling at each other in their nightgowns about super-aggressive and one-sided museum romances.

Then again, traffic doesn't lie.

Robert petting Isis

Cora and Robert's contributions during all of this have been even more esoteric. I decide their primary goals should be to be more active in the community; appearing in public, meeting and greeting, the usual benefactor-like things. I sign Cora up for a career as a socialite, while I send Robert out to the only open event at the moment, a Pet Show. Naturally Robert and his beloved, highly-trained hunting dog Isis take first prize (and thankfully earn enough money to keep the creditor away for another week). But... That's about it. Turns out both of these pseudo-career paths may be a bit of a slow-burn for the moment.

Speaking of dogs, what's that gnome up to?

Dog Gnome 3

Suffice it to say, I've renamed him Branson. I'll definitely have to keep an eye on him.

Sybil loud greeting

Sybil tattooThe addition of University Life has also added some new content relevant to Sybil. She's a member of the Rebel social group now, which provides her with a megaphone that she can use to arrange protests (or just shout at people through.) I hadn't considered this when I was installing the expansion, but it's just so perfect for Sybil's character. Obviously I'm thrilled, so I decide to celebrate.

Before going to France, a very specific wish popped up for Sybil: she wanted to get a tattoo. I saved that wish, and now that she's slowly making her way up the Rebel social ladder it seems like the perfect time to fulfill it. After all, who am I to say she can't get a tattoo if she really wants one?

Sybil tattoo 3

She changes into her swimsuit and gets her tattoo from a punk with dark blue fairy wings and pointed ears, as is the norm in Sim Yorkshire at this point. I'm trying not to dwell on it.

At least he wasn't a werewolf, right?

Sybil tattoo 4

I pick out a tasteful treble clef (to represent her love of music, and because the alternatives are pretty much just flaming skulls or llamas) in a very traditional location that will usually be covered by her sleeves. She gets a nice rebelliousness-related mood bonus from this... Even though I doubt her parents will.

Well, I think things are looking up at Sim Downton Abbey. Although the romantic lives of the family are still a bit rocky, they're getting more involved with the town (for better and for worse) so next week seems like it will be a good time to add a few more familiar faces it the mix.

Bates

There might even be someone nearby to distract Anna from her beloved pet shrew.

Next week is also the start of the fall festival, so if you've ever asked yourself what Violet Crawley would wear for Halloween (if a bored 26-year-old was picking her costume and forcing her into it through their god-like powers) Episode 7 of Sim Downton Abbey will definitely be for you.

Please share this post with people you like:

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Wolf Baginski

Wrong Army, Molesley...

I am not going to shout at you, Molesley. I know you can hear, but I feel I should inform you that you have disappointed your Sergeant. You are improperly dressed, you are sulking, AND YOU ARE PEELING POTATOES BEHIND THE COOKHOUSE FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK!

Jocelyn

This is so entertaining! I love your writing! I look forward to more posts. keep it up, and don't get rid of the supernaturals. Those werewolves crack me up

Cat Boccaccio

I am really enjoying he adventures of the Downton Abbey Sims, and your great photos. I love the random, almost surreal tangents, like the tissue box museum exhibit, the gnome dog, Sybil's tattoo, the appearance of Molesly in army fatigues.

There was not as much autonomy when, years ago, I built Manderly (from the novel 'Rebecca') in the Sims, and peopled it with both Mrs DeWinters, Maxim, Mrs Danvers, the estate agent and so on. They were all shameless, and didn't seem to care who they slept with, but otherwise were mainly concerned with snacking and showering.

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