Downton Abbey Meets The Sims 3, Part 4: Hot Days, Hotdogs, and Horsemanship
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
It's summer at Sim Downton Abbey (catch up on the series so far here), and I've been doing my duty as a responsible and benevolent sim god by trying to make sure that everyone is keeping busy. As hands-off as I normally like to be, I just can't deal with Anna making mac & cheese every damn night for dinner.
Of course, that's no reason not to let them have a little fun either, especially when the summer festival comes around. I didn't exactly expect the three most dignified ladies of the house to dive headfirst into a pile of hotdogs the second I loosened the reins, but all work and no play...
I mentioned before how don't like to be too heavy-handed in managing Sim Downton, but I've been trying to "guide" everyone into skills that match their characters' aptitudes and interests when possible. Sybil has been practicing the piano for example, while Robert's focus has been more on Logic (though perhaps he should take an interest in wine-making instead?) Meanwhile Cora, Violet, and Mary have all been building their Charisma, Edith has developed her writing slightly, and Thomas...
Well, Thomas has been wandering around the house accusing everyone and their mother (literally) of impropriety. I suppose it can't be helped; of all of the skills available in The Sims 3, I can't find any that fit Thomas. Every now and then I find that he's wandered over to the town gym, but I don't see any sign that he's been working on his athleticism. So... Take from that what you will. At least since the University Life patch added the ability to lock doors for certain sims only (rather than the previous all-or-nothing locking system) he's no longer able to sneak into Cora's bathroom for a midday soak.
Anna's not a cook in the series, but the family size limitations of the game have forced her to double as a lady's maid and a cook at the virtual abbey. As a result she's a very fast cleaner but her cooking skills still leave a lot to be desired. Every free moment she's had has been filled with cookbooks and new recipes to learn (which the household has spent a small fortune acquiring for her, but there's plenty more where that came from... Right?)
The family has taken to gathering right in the kitchen (the gloriously gilded dining room is most often used as a "gussying up" room by Violet, lately) to try Anna's latest recipes, and most of the food has gone over well enough...
... Except for the Hot and Sour soup...
... Which didn't seem to agree with Mary.
Everyone else enjoyed it just fine. Would it kill her to be a bit more supportive?
In addition to all this new skill training, I sent Robert out to invest some money in local businesses. I'm not sure why, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a house of 8 people with no income (who spend thousands of dollars on recipe books) may not be able to support itself indefinitely based on generous starting funds alone. Robert invests almost every simolean the family has in local property, shop partnerships, and even in fortune telling wagon. Call it a preventative measure... Or maybe an attempt to drive them into the poorhouse just a bit faster for fun.
Though it seems like Robert won't need much help with that anyway: At some point during his investment trip, he buys (or steals?) a guitar and begins carrying it around like a lucky charm. I have no idea where it came from or why he has it. Once again, take from that what you will, because your guess is as good as mine.
Robert also invests in the local equestrian center, where Matthew brought Mary for their first date. It's the perfect opportunity to finally buy a horse for Mary (and create the perfect riding dress to go with it of course.) It's the most expensive horse they have available--an obedient, agile, and fast thoroughbred--and with some quick appearance editing it's a dead ringer for Mary's original horse, Diamond.
Mary's not a terribly talented rider yet, though, so charisma is going on the back-burner until she improves.
Surprisingly as Mary is practicing, Thomas saunters out and starts helping reset the obstacles after each jump that her and Diamond miss. Maybe he's actually trying to mend fences between him and the eldest Crawley daughter after their endless feuding (or maybe he's at the mercy of his programming) but this keeps Mary from having to dismount after each mistake, and lets her practice much more efficiently. Maybe I've been too hard on you, Thomas, maybe you're an okay guy after all!
Thanks to his help, we're finally getting somewhere.
I'm pretty pleased with the progress the family has made, so when Leisure Day (the summer holiday) rolls around I decide to send Violet, Cora, and the girls to spend the afternoon at the festival. The house is full of dirty laundry and Robert desperately wants some time to train his dog Pharaoh to hunt, so he and the staff stay home while the ladies pile into the car and head to the town square.
I let everyone run wild at the festival. They gorge on sno-cones, play carnival games, win tickets, set off firecrackers, pick flowers... Sybil and Edith even take a particular shining to the rollerskating rink.
It turns out that skating takes a lot of practice, too.
Neither of the sisters are particularly gifted...
And as is so often the case, the second things are going well a werewolf shows up and makes things weird. I'm working on it, I swear.
I was so transfixed by Edith and Sybil that I'd altogether forgotten to keep an eye on Mary, Cora, and the Dowager Countess...
... Who all decided to enter a hotdog eating competition alongside a random little boy.
Suffice it to say they completely trampled him.
As the sun set, Mary's easy victory over the mountain of hotdogs (take from that what you... etc.) secured enough tickets to exchange for a game of horseshoes for the Abbey's lawn. With summer drawing to a close on such a high note, cross your fingers for an equally abundant autumn at Sim Downton Abbey.
P.S. It turns out the new door locking system isn't as great as I thought it was. It doesn't account for pets at all, something I realized just in time to save Robert's poor retriever from starving to death in his master's dressing room.
Oops. Sorry girl!
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Iris 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.