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Hot Date - How To Build Yours (2)
Previously On "Hot Date - How To Build Yours"...
Last time (here), I discussed how easy it was to build for downtown and make a restaurant. But this sort of downtown area doesn't do a lot for sims as a whole, they will eventually wander off due to nothing to do.

Adding objects to your downtown area to increase a Sims fun motive is always a good idea. Those of you with House Party will be pleased to know that most of the fun objects there can appear downtown as well. So you can have your centrepiece attraction to be the ToroTec Mechnical Bull after all!

Dance The Night Away

Painting a room correctly can add loads of atmosphere - more than any object ever could

An easy way to up the fun and social motives in a downtown area is to make a dance room. As this is potentially a high traffic area, make appropriate plans for getting in and out; in a nutshell have more than one door to start with. Normally you can get away with two adjoining doors but if you plan to invite other sims to "Join" you on the dancefloor from another room, you may need more doors.

So we've installed a DJ turntable, the dance mats, some speakers, the discolights and the dancecage from House Party. This particular expansion pack does wonders for anything that involves a mass gathering of Sims. Try adding carpet with a space theme (stars) and the room suddenly takes on much deeper depth (although this doesn't show in the screengrab above). Like floating in deep space. Try it.

Rearrange The Walls

Ideas evolve as you go along so make changes as you wish

With a limitless supply of money for building a downtown area, feel free to rip great chunks of your previous work up and do something else with it instead. Because you can, and should. You will not believe the number of times I had to rip this new diagonal wall up because I wasn't happy with it.

We've decided to build a garden area (see below), but to accommodate it we've thrown out the previous bar area, moved the outer wall and shifted the sushi bar outside. In its place is a pool table. By using a combination of straight and diagonal walls, you gain obvious spots where something decorative can go - you'll see what I mean next time.

"Let's Go Outside"

Quite possible the Sims equivalent of the Blue Peter Garden - no sign of where George the Tortoise is buried though

And this is the back garden of our building - this houses the sushi bar and a hot dog stand. It also has the love swing - what else is more romantic that swinging on this by the pond? Probably lots of things actually but sims aren't too fussed.

As the sushi bar grants food that the Sims prefer to eat while sitting, it makes sense to provide it. Normally you wouldn't put these benches next to the fence like this but we're not expecting that much traffic down here anyway. The fence is there, by the way, to stop the sims wandering off round the back of the complex and possibly getting stuck.

The rental shack - with this and the pond you can feed the fish or rent a model boat. Notice how this area is open planned so your sims don't have to wander through the inside of the complex just to feed the fish.

Retail Therapy

Okay, it's not Marks & Spencer but still a fully functional shop - nothing impresses a date more than buying him/her a new suit

Because there's a lot of dead air in this place at the moment, we decided a shop was in order. This fashion outlet happens to stock flowers, diamonds and a parrot. You can also add magazine racks, gardening stalls and what not and really make a "one stop shop".

Shops are high traffic areas so plan accordingly. Nice big spacious areas is the key. All you need for a functioning shop are a few racks, changing booths, a mirror and a till. Obviously the more stuff you put in here the more likely sims will come and have a pokey about although they won't autonomously buy anything as they're cheap like that. If you expect high demand, more than one till would be useful.

Obviously, this being an entirely separate area you can decorate it differently. We've gone for a nice deep blue finish with carpet to match. Of course you can go for some shocking colour combination if you wish but if you get a headache, don't come crying to us. The parrot is useful for a small fun boost too although don't expect your date to be impressed if you spend more time talking to Polly than your partner.

Filling The Gaps

Any outstanding gaps that you don't want to fill with shops can be filled up with these type of items

If you have big empty gaps somewhere and you can't find anything to fill them then consider items from other expansion packs. Here, we've added the pinball game and the trainset from the original game. Vacation's arcade games are good to fill up a corner or two. All of these serve fun and social if your date gets involved.

To add atmosphere, put some speakers on the walls for background music. The quality of the speakers you install defines which type of music you get. Sims care not about the music but you probably will.

Lighting

Great tip this - zone off sections of your biggest areas and light them individually then remove the walls.

Some people prefer patchy selective lighting in their games; others prefer "sheet" lighting where anything that can be lit under darkness is actually lit. There are advantages to both - the former adds atmosphere to the game on screen, while the latter takes more work but is generally preferred by the Sims for their room score if it's not maxed out already.

Here's a tip for lighting downtown areas: Zone a section off as shown, install lights for that area so the dark area is illuminated then remove the walls you just put in. Repeat this all over. Useful for the bigger rooms like our restaurant/bar room.

You can also put lights on the tables to provide light if you've gone off ceiling lights and floor lights get in the way. Sims are happy to sit at tables with a light on them. This would be a nice idea for a really romantic downtown area - stick candles on tables instead of ceiling lights above tables.

Wrap It Up

Lot 23 after we've finished with it - very nice, very functional

This is the state of Lot 23 after this editorial. This downtown lot is virtually complete now and is comparible to the default ones that ship with the game.

So we have now plenty of fun opportunities, copious ways to boost our social score and everything we need for a hot date. You can even buy some new clothes to boot. What's left?

Functionality wise, Lot 23 is complete. Visually wise, it looks bare. We've deliberately let out details of decoration (bar painting the walls) and making it look pretty, plus our front entrance is a bit naff to boot.

Next time, we'll cover decorating in general, including putting plants down, laying the pavement/sidewalk and decorating both inside and outside. See you next time!

Written at 23:16 2004n Thursday 22 July 2004 by Neil.
Last updated at 10:24 2004n Monday 25 October 2004.

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