Project Strangetown Edit
With The Sims 3 being effectively a prequel to The Sims 2, one of the things I have always loved to do with my game is to tell the backstory of a Sims 2 neighborhood. But, while many of the Pleasantview families already exist (albeit scattered across several neighborhoods), my favorite world, Strangetown, was looking sparse, with only the Curious family (paternal side), the Beaker family (Loki's side), and Olive Specter (and Nervous) in existence.
But rather than populate a custom world with custom replicas, I wanted to use an existing neighborhood with existing families to tell the story of the evolution of Strangetown from thriving desert community to deserted military outpost. The only obvious climate: Lucky Palms. And so, I bundled up the Curious family, uprooted them from Twinbrook, and headed for the golden sands, where there the roads are paved with Simoleons.
The Road to Strangetown Edit
They layout of Lucky Palms lends itself wonderfully to a recreation of Strangetown. A large dual carriageway runs straight across the map, with the science and military establishments closeby. This empty freeway is, of course, the Road To Nowhere.
In the various descriptions of the lots and households, it is hinted that some residents of Lucky Palms are already down on their luck. The area north of the freeway is populated with small, cheap housing, and abandoned commercial buildings now doubling as homes: the theatre, the pharmacy, the garage, and the motel. The lake has run dry, the businesses have died a death, and the population of this little section of the community may soon move on to greener pastures, or else leave their children to clean up the mess of this failed gamblers' paradise.
Generation 0: The Baby Boomers Edit
The town Marshall and Cherish move to is gleaming with opportunity. The Lucky Simoleon Casino has just been built, and business is booming. Concert venues are erected around town and Simfests operate on a biweekly basis, drawing crowds and popular artists alike. It's a vibrant young town with a promising future.
This first generation consists mostly of the original residents, with the addition of the Curious family who moved here from Twinbrook. These are the people for whom the lush, green parts of town were built. They live in the big, gleaming houses on Golf View Road, eat at Romon's Bistro, and enjoy Drinks at Diamondbacks. They are also going to be the parents of the next generation of Strangetowners - and there are a lot of them! In order to populate the entire forest of Strangetown family trees with all the right grandparents, there were going to be a lot of babies born in these golden years!
My starting families included:
- Existing pregnancies
- Established couples
- New romances
- Adoptive parents
Red-headed showgirl Lola is pregnant with her married lover's baby. Despite all the genetic odds, Lola's gene for ginger locks will eventually be passed on to Circe Beaker, via Lola's daughter Moira McGork (nee Moira Lancaster).
Lina is living with lover Eli Vokoban when she falls pregnant. Her daughter Jacqueline is named 'Vokoban' after her step-father. Later, she will be Jacqueline Vandermorgan. Eli dies without ever knowing the true parentage of his step-child. Lina and Eli marry, and Lina achieves her Lifetime Wish (Golddigger) upon the event of his death.
Yolanda begins the game pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's child. She raises her son, Hamm, alone, naming him after the her favorite dish at Lennon's Desert Diner. Young Hamm Shaw (later Hamm Hogleg) inherits his father's tan skin and his mother's blond hair, the latter of which will be passed to his daughter own, Kitty Curious.
Baby Annie is born to a progressive, modern family. She will later go by Annie Hogleg and become heir to the Desert Diner business.
The Tanners have two existing children - Ethan and Yuna. Daughter Eurydice is already on the way when the game begins. She will grow up to become Eurydice Salamis, and parent a family of medical geniuses.
These young lovers are living apart but are romantically involved. When their son is born, Marisol gives him his father's surname. Marisol and Donnovan move in together, leaving Marisol's former house to their son, Mike Steel.
This young couple live with their roomie Clark in a big house share. The arrival of daughter Wanda puts an added strain on their living situation, but Wanda Grunt (nee Vasquez) will grow up learning how to impose military order upon chaos.
As if Piper wasn't already having enough trouble, this 'problem child' became further estranged from her father after she became pregnant as a teenager by her new boyfriend. She moves out to live with her in-laws, but the stress of raising their son is too much for Sahan, and they break up soon after. Piper changes her surname and moves into a motel with her son, Kavi Loner.
New RomancesRock Grunt.
Baby Addison grows up, dates, and has a child with her childhood friend, Hanson. She still lives with her parents, who help her raise baby Milony as Addison continues at high school. Brittlebrush Academy draws the attention of the education authorities following reports of an unusual rate of teen pregnancies. Baby Milony, later Milony Frehndly, is outgoing and happy, despite the neighborhood gossip about her mother.
Retired starlet Kitty is determined to have a child before old age kicks in. She hooks up with barman Cornelius and nine months later gives birth to a baby boy. She names him Andre Price Vandeen, but his future daughter and grandchildren will know him as A.P. Vandermorgan.
These two were an afterthought when I replayed following a save corruption. Naomi Nita gives up on her dreams of immortality through potions, and decides to have a child. Her friend Vivenne sets her up with her roomie , Clark. It's a win-win situation: Naomi wants to hook up, Clark needs a place to stay, and Vivienne and Oscar want him out of the way so they can start a family. Clark moves in, Naomi gets pregnant, and Jeevika is born. However, there is quite an age difference in this relationship, and Clark bores of his older girlfriend very quickly. Naomi continues to raise Jeevika alone, but dies of old age before her daughter can finish high school...
Bhu Frehndly, from an orphanage in India, although Ezekiel still plays with the dollshouse more than Bhu ever does. In his old age, Ezekiel becomes something of an Elton John type figure, known for his extravagant dress, younger partner, and legendary musical career.
Cricket grows up into something of a hippie. She enjoys painting and does yoga in the back garden. She and girlfriend Tabbi move into the Tanner household and set up a hippie commune, much to the shock of the conservative desert community. She and Tabbi take in the daughter of the late Naomi Nita, Jeevika, who is mourning her mother and already pregnant. Jeevika moves in, and Ethan builds an extension into the garage. Jeevika, meanwhile, is falling hard for boyfriend Kavi, and is set to become Jeevika Loner in the not too distance future.
- The Curious Family
It wouldn't be Strangetown (or Strange Palms) without the Curiouses! This project began with Marshall Curious and Cherish Curious upping sticks and moving out to the Palms. Now, they live in 'That 70's House' on Golf View Drive. Cherish practices inventing on the side of her career in education and now their house is full of little gadgets and gizmos. Meanwhile, Marshall keeps claiming he was abducted by aliens and is beginning to write books speculating upon the existence of extra-terrestrial life. They are a long way from Twinbrook now, and Notzo Curious has a very different future ahead of him here than he would have done back home!
- The Whelohff family
The Curiouses couldn't bear to leave old friends Rich Whelohff and Rosy Whelohff behind, so they persuaded them to move, too. Rich and Rosy live just across the way in 'The Claw', a super-swish high tech mansion. Daughter Zo (soon to be Zo Curious) is growing up nicely.
- The Morel Family
I was running out of sims in Lucky Palms, so I widened my search to France. In Champs Les Sims, locals Edith Morel and Gérard Morel have a daughter named Mary. As she grows older, her love of gardening (and her hourglass shape) earn her the nickname Mary Melons.
- The Salas family
The similarity to 'Salamis' was close enough, and as I had Midnight Hollow all set up, Jay Salas and Tatiana Salas were the perfect residents for the spooky haunted castle that now sits on the outskirts of Lucky Palms. Tatiana is already expecting a baby, and she and Jay are doing everything they can to ensure their third child escapes their ghostly fate. Researching cures, harvesting life fruit, and scouring the graveyard for deathfish, the Salas family work night and day to ensure their new child will be flesh and blood, rather than a mere apparition. Their baby son is born, and named 'Andros', meaning 'man', a fitting title for their first human child, and Andros Salamis will go on to start a new generation of aspiring surgeons.
Generation X Edit
The Lucky Simoleon Casino has turned out to not be so lucky, and the gamblers stopped coming. The poker tables stand empty, the slot machines are silent. Around the rest of Lucky Palms, the businesses are suffering, and the town is beginning to slump into a localized recession.
Some of the town's wealthier residents move on. Darren Dreamer and Darleen Mataplin move on to more Pleasant pastures, with Darleen's parents in tow; Many of the elders who retired to this little oasis take their pension pots elsewhere; Brayden King and his family move away, presumably to Washington. Isadora Bard outgrows the little desert laboratory and takes her expertise elsewhere, leaving space for a younger, more... curious scientist to seek promotion.
The Simfests fail to bring in the crowds, and the entertainment venues close down, leaving only the bars. Superstar EZ Kool Rock retires from the industry to raise Bhu and run meditation retreats in his hippie commune with his friend Cricket. Wanda Vasquez is now all grown up and pulling pints at the Sandy Place (the dive bar up by the dry lake); Bunny Curious plays at the Poolside Club and gives up on her dreams of hitting the big time; Eli Vokoban dies without ever knowing the true parentage of little Jacqueline; Romon Tanner passes on and leaves the Bistro in the hands of son Ethan; meanwhile, Lennon Sosa leaves his diner business to illegitimate son, Hamm. Aside from the two rival restaurants, the most significant employers in town by now are the Science lab and the Military.
The boarded-up casino is torn down, and the Marketplace is build on the empty lot. But life goes on.
This generation's birth rate is far lower - half that of the one before. Young sims seeking to start a family are in for a murky future in Lucky Palms now. There are fewer work opportunities than their parents had, and rumours are spreading of little green men roaming the town at night, scaring the tourists away. But that's all just a fantasy in Notzo's head, right?
I noticed during my planning stages for this neighbourhood that Vikram Loner is significantly older than his wife and dies before his mother in law. As such, Kavi and Jeevika's romance started early. Jeevika had Vikram in her teens and raised him with the help of her foster mother, Cricket Irwin. When she reached eighteen, she inherited her mother's house, with its strange underground bunker.
She and Kavi married and moved into the house, raising Vikram between them. Kavi joined the military, and Jeevika joined the medical profession, where she is now encountering growing numbers of sims reporting laser burns, mysterious weight gain, and ranting about an alien invasion.
Paranoia runs in the family, and if Naomi's fear was of a zombie apocalypse, then Jeevika's is of an alien attack in Lucky Palms. She and the rest of the Loner family bunker down in the basement to wait it out until the little green men leave.
- Rock Grunt & Wanda Vasquez
Rock joins the army, just like his mother would have wanted. He spends his young adulthood hanging around the dive bar where Wanda works, trying to chat her up. Wanda is a conservative, homely sort of woman. She's a good cook and she wears cardigans and she's just the sort of wife the army approves of. The pair of them move into the house that Rock's mother once shared with his father - not through sentimentality, it's just that it's the only two bed place they can afford on an army grunt's salary.
Baby Chip is born soon after their wedding, so named because he is expected to be a chip off the old block.
- Mike Steel & Mary Morel
Mike and Mary had an eventful relationship. They met in France as teenagers and had a long-distance romance for a spell. They even had a child together, but then I left Mike alone for five minutes and he cheated on Mary with her brother, Pascal Morel and Mary got a bit cross.
They broke up, but I decided to go with the flow and get Mike a boyfriend back home for a spell...
- Mike Steel & A.P. Vandeen
Andre 'A.P.' Vandeen is a writer and musician. He's the son of Kitty Price and townie Cornelius Vandeen, and performs under the stage name 'Andre Price'. He's outdoorsy and romantic, and Mike is an aspiring jockey who is at one with nature. They move in together for a spell, raise horses, and take regular holidays to France to see Mike's daughter.
Mike trains both their horses to be fantastic racers and he wins several trophies at the peak of his career. Meanwhile, Andre plays some great concerts and becomes a reasonably successful singer, before the venues close down and he falls back on writing as his primary earner. Both of them achieve their lifetime wishes before reaching adulthood.
Then came the inevitable day when I had to break up my cowboys. A.P. is ridiculously wealthy, thanks to the lavish house left to him by Kitty, and family friend Lina is trying to set him up with her daughter, Jacqueline. Jacqueline is an absolute sweetie, unlike her mother, and they wind up becoming close. Eventually, A.P. tires of Mike's constant trips to France, and leaves him for Jacqueline, leaving him with nothing but a series of romantic novels to remember him by.
Which brings us to...
- Mike Steel & Mary Morel... again
Mike is understandably heartbroken (he turned up at the wedding and cried a lot) but Andre's departure does make him reassess the amount of time and money he spends jetting to and from Champs Les Sims. Lonely and wanting to get his life back together, he discusses some long term plans with his ex-girlfriend, and they try to decide on a way to give Missy more time with her dad. Mary decides to move over to Lucky Palms, and bring Missy with her. They don't get married, but they do reconcile and start up an informal relationship, and Missy Morel settles in nicely.
Mike still rides horses and Mary grows watermelons in the garden.
- Moira Lancaster & Gwyddlang McGork
Lang Gwydd of Twinbrook had something of a midlife crisis. As he hit adulthood, he decided to change his life (and his personality) and move to Lucky Palms. He's more athletic, and more outdoorsy, and he's also changed his name - again. (McGork was actually his original surname, but people kept calling him McDork, so he changed it.) He's now taken up his old name again and rejoined the science career, hoping to solve the mystery of some of the paranormal rumblings coming out of this little desert town.
Moira lost her mother at quite an early age, but idolized her, and she herself dabbled in the music industry for a while before all the Simfest venues closed down, and she now works at the bistro.
Gwyddlang marries Moira, and they live in the old pharmacy up on Lakeside Drive. Their daughter Grainne is already aspiring to be a doctor, although she seems to take after her father in his youth and would rather sit on the couch with a book than do her homework.
- Andros Salas & Eurydice Tanner
Andros was a strange child with a strange name. This pasty kid attended school like clockwork every day of his life, only making one friend. Eurydice Tanner used to go over to his place after school - well, what kid wouldn't want to go poking around in a big spooky castle? - but never saw his family. Nobody ever did. But Andros was always smart and well cared for, and nobody ever worried.
It was only when he grew up and failed to turn up to his graduation that anybody else ever attempted to look into his home life. Andros was found in what appeared to be a rudimentary medical lab, performing experiments on a glowing fruit and a strange black fish, ranting about how he was helping his father save his sisters and mother.
The house was empty, save for four funeral urnstones.
However, Andros was now of age, and no longer the concern of the authorities. He was left to his own devices, conducting his experiments in his haunted castle. Only Eurydice ever bothers to pay him any mind, and she has come to love this strange, pale sim with his white hair and grey eyes. They marry young, and have a son together - the equally-peculiarly-named Xanthos. He takes after his mother, and looks like a normal sim.
- Zo Curious & Notzo Curious
Zo and Notzo were friends for the longest time, always hanging out together at the Old Marketplace. They both worked at the science lab having grown up together with scientists for fathers, and are as nerdy as you can imagine.
Rich and Rosy take to spending a lot of time around at Notzo's place when they retire, partly as they are best of friends, and partly to act as extended family after the deaths of Marshall and Cherish (whose ghosts still haunt the lot from time to time.) They aren't particularly surprised when Notzo and Zo announce their engagement in later life. Baby Glarn is born soon after the wedding.
When Zo's maternity leave is over, Notzo decides to abandon the science career track and take up inventing. He is naturally gifted in the skill, and is soon building gadgets and blowing up salvaged items all over the place! Zo, meanwhile, is cultivating Marshall's old vegetable patch, growing money trees and life fruits.
Baby Glarn is a genius by nature, but seems to have a slim grasp on reality. Zo blames Notzo's father: Marshall claimed to have been abducted by aliens shortly before he died, and dedicated his retirement years to writing books on the subject. But could their really have been truth in his claims? Either way, his oddities seem to have been passed on to grandson Glarn. His head is always in the clouds, either with theories or with fantasies, and ever since he received that weird doll in the post, he seems to be in a little world of his own. He calls it Glabe, and he keeps insisting that it's alive...
Still to come:
- Annie Hudson & Hamm Shaw
- Bhu Reid & Milony Ross
- A.P. Vandeen & Jacqueline Vokoban
Pictures being uploaded soon!