Reflections Design Studio for TS4

I’m excited to show off my first published lot for The Sims 4.  To be honest, it was built on a whim.  I noticed the Build ‘n Share challenge thread on the TS4 forums and was intrigued by the first challenge, which is to create a designer sim and his or her office.  I remember Build ‘n Share from TS3; it always looked like fun, but I never participated, so I thought that I’d give it a go this time.

Reflections Design Studio is a commercial property, designated as a museum, set on a 30×20 lot.  It costs $65,531 (which doesn’t matter unless you want to convert it to a residential property, I suppose).  It is a riff on my Reflections Gym & Spa from The Sims 3.  I fell in love with the idea of a mirrored structure when I saw images of this mirror house, and I was re-inspired in TS4 after being amazed by images of the Shard House (possibly my favorite building ever).

For this build, I wanted to go with a modern, edgy design that would also incorporate many windows for natural lighting and an open floor plan.  I wanted to represent my design aesthetic as much as possible.  As with my original gym, this was an interesting challenge in terms of balancing structure, reflectivity, windows/light, and of course, the interior elements.  I also experienced some very strange game quirks as I went along that had me a bit discouraged, given the time crunch (I started just a few days before the challenge was due).  However, I’m happy to report that it’s complete and has well surpassed my original expectations.  I don’t expect it will receive many downloads because it is small, has an odd layout, and is so very specific to the challenge, but I’m still excited to offer up something unique to the community.

Without further ado, here are images of the Studio.  If you would like to check it out in game, you can search by its name or by my hashtag, #bryscreations.

Exterior Shots – Afternoon

Interior Shots – Reception Area

Okay, strictly speaking, this last shot was superfluous, and I know you won’t be paying much attention to the interior with such a distraction *ahem*, but I couldn’t resist posting it!

Interior Shots – Waiting Area and Office (I am not going to bother showing you the bathroom – it’s there, and it’s accommodating, but I didn’t wall it with mirrors or anything outrageous, so what’s the point?)

That’s my simself there behind the desk,  I never planned to upload her, but it was required for the challenge.  It feels weird to put ones simself up for grabs!

Here are some overhead shots so that you can get an idea of the floorplan:

And I can’t resist showing more of the exterior at different times of day, first in the evening:

And I just love it at night:

That’s it!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I have a more playable lot (residential) coming soon, and I am toying with remaking the Reflections Gym for TS4.  I also have many attractive sims on the way, as I’ve been having way too much fun experimenting with genetics in CAS.

My First Sims 4 Work in Progress

I was planning to just stick to playing for the first few weeks after getting TS4…but I couldn’t resist wanting to check out the new build mode.  There are definitely a lot of constraints now that I find myself chafing against.  It’s really tough having no cheats whatsoever available, and some of the “smart” tools are quite irksome because you are unable to take manual control when you want/need to.  A prime example of that came when I decided to try my hand at the Volga Patchwork House.

This was a house that I started working on in TS3, and I thought that perhaps with TS4’s shiftable windows, it might be easier.  It’s straightforward in terms of levels; the complexity is in the exterior siding.  I soon discovered that we can no longer choose to use panels with siding in any position we like; they will only go on corners.  And you can’t even do something to trick it, like creating a corner, placing the wall paper, and then deleting one of the walls, because as soon as you delete it, the wall paper reverts to a version with no siding.  Very frustrating not to have manual control over this – we did in TS3!

So for now, I’ve moved on to the Brick Wall House.

I think this house will make for a good starter or next bump up abode, and fortunately, I haven’t encountered anything that makes it impossible to build a decent replica.  The most irritating issues so far have been to do with the color palette (in my opinion, we at least need to have primary colors available for each object), lack of a very low and narrow fence that can be used as edging (the new edging tool is nifty, but again, you have no manual control – it’s all or nothing, and that doesn’t work well with this house, and boy do I miss the Bauhaus windows from TS3 – were always so great to have when creating a modern.  Still, it’s coming along.  Here are some shots:

P.S.  The sims I mentioned in my last post are all now available on the gallery along with a few more from the cast and my attempt at actor Rutger Hauer (unrelated to Veronica Mars).  Simply search for my hashtag, #bryscreations.

To Sims 4 or Not To Sims4…

That has definitely been the question on my mind for the past few months!  I was really hoping for some revolutionary changes with the next version of The Sims, and as news about TS4 started filtering out, it was disappointing.  The graphics had not evolved the way I’d hoped, and features that we’ve come to take for granted were not being implemented.  Thus, I was on the fence and leaning pretty heavily toward staying on The Sims 3 side of it.  There are still builds and stories I have in progress in TS3, but truthfully, I haven’t done much with the game for many months, so I hadn’t written off TS4 completely.  Then, finally, the TS4 CAS demo became available, and I have to admit I’ve been having a good deal of fun with it.

I definitely miss CAST functionality.  It’s hard to comprehend that we aren’t even given a color wheel for at least a minimum of customization beyond the template colors available.  Also, when it comes to the templates, a lot of the colors are way more garish than I care for where others are more muted.  It makes it tough to set up a good matching outfit sometimes, and the hair and particularly eye color choices are poor if you prefer more natural, realistic colors.  The hairs are very blocky, which seems like something of a step backwards.  However, I think there is a pretty good selection of hairstyles and clothing for a new base game, and I’ve heard that there will be more that we’re not seeing in the demo.

The real star of the demo is the ability to more intuitively shape your sim’s face and body with push/pull techniques as opposed to the prior format of presets and sliders.  However, there are still limits to what you can do as you must still select (or accept) a preset for each feature that can be morphed from there to a certain extent.  It isn’t always easy to know exactly what you’re manipulating when you grab part of a feature; you might think you’re going to tilt the nose up, but instead you make the tip larger, things like that.  With trial and error, you get used to it.  It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a step up from sim creation in TS3.

I’ve been working on creating some of the cast from the Veronica Mars TV show.  I just finished watching the series and movie, so the characters are fresh on my mind, and I thought it would be fun to set up my own “Neptune.”  I feel like I’m definitely putting CAS through its paces as I try to generate sims that can be easily recognized as their celebrity counterparts.  It’s definitely a challenge, although some come easier than others.  My Weevil practically sprang to life from the random generator.  Here’s what he looks like – it’s not perfect, but I think it’s probably as close as I’m going to get:

Francis Capra aka Eli “Weevil” Navarro

Simified

 

Lilly and Dick are coming along nicely too:

Amanda Seyfried aka Lilly Kane

Simified

Ryan Hansen aka Richard “Dick” Casablancas

Simified

I am having a really tough time with Logan and Veronica.  It’s weird, but it seems like even though I can approximate their features, they’re missing something that would make for a strong resemblance.  I may just need to get more extreme; it seems like you almost have to draw a caricature to make it work.  I’ve also got Mac, Wallace, and Duncan in progress.  Hope to have them all finished and uploaded by go live!  You’ll be able to find them in the gallery by searching for hashtag #bryscreations or my Origin ID, BryonyRae.

Looking beyond CAS and the sims themselves, I am still concerned about building.  From what I understand, we are restricted to completely flat lots, no split levels, no CFE or MOO cheats, only 3 story structures, etc.  From an advanced building perspective, it seems like much is lost.  However, I didn’t originally get into the Sims to build; that evolved in the Sims 3 and in no small part due to the wooden nature of the sims, which made it difficult for me to enjoy the gameplay that much.  I am hoping that gameplay itself will have more staying power in TS4.  I will also give building a try, but if it fails to hold my interest, oh well.  I will take The Sims 4 as a brand-new game and try to judge it on its own merits (but they do need to add toddlers and pools ASAP!).

 

Reflections – Gym and Spa

Front Exterior View – Sunlit Tides

At long last, I am pleased to present my latest completed project, Reflections Gym & Spa!  I have been working on this build for several months, and I think it’s unique – at least, I’ve never seen anything like it before.  The concept was to use mirrors both inside and outside, as part of the architecture, in order to create interesting and ever changing color combinations and to reflect the sims and their environment.  Inspiration for this lot actually struck me way back when I was working on The Austere.  I was playing with a lot of reflective surfaces in that build, and I saw an image of a “mirror house” on the web that really caught my eye:

Inspiration Home

I thought, ‘Why not use mirrors to create a similar effect in The Sims 3?  Would it work?’  It did!  However, I found that the effect took away from what I was trying to achieve with The Austere, and I decided to table it for a future build.  Once I had time to experiment more with the idea later, it became clear to me that while it might make for an interesting residence, it could do wonders for a community lot.  I didn’t know what type of lot I would build at first, but I had just embarked upon a weight loss and fitness journey in my personal life, so a gym seemed appropriate.

I wanted to provide a gym that would go above and beyond, not only in appearance but in activities offered.  In addition to the standard weights and treadmills, you’ll find a boxing ring, martial arts studio, climbing walls, ballet studio, basketball court, soccer court, swimming pool, trampoline, racquetball courts, VR/Media fit room, and much more.  I wanted Reflections to be focused on whole body-mind health, so you’ll also find two spas, a salon, and a healthy juice bar to keep your sims refreshed and rejuvenated.  Feel free to bring the whole family; Reflections offers activities for all age levels, including a large, marine-themed kids club that will keep the little ones engaged in hours of fun!  Reflections is the perfect blend of art and functionality and will be an attractive asset to any neighborhood.  Take a look at how it appears in Sunlit Tides, Lunar Lakes, and Simkyo (a custom city world made by Remmo).

Reflections in Sunlit Tides:

Front Exterior

Exterior Overhead Corner View

 

Close-up of Corner

Back Exterior

I just love the colors that Sunlit Tides infuses into the building – such vibrant blues.  Check it out at sunset too!

Sunset in Sunlit Tides

Back Exterior Sunset – Sunlit Tides

I think Sunlit Tides is a great location for Reflections, although I will admit that the build is quite modern and doesn’t have the same island vibe as the other community lots; perhaps it will fit better into Island Paradise!

Reflections is an interesting addition to Lunar Lakes:

Front Exterior Lunar Lakes

Closeup in Lunar Lakes

Back Exterior Lunar Lakes

I think the modern architecture fits right in with the futuristic feel there, and I love the warm, golden color reflections.  You could easily recolor the blue stripe I used on the building to another color that might work better with LL too.

I couldn’t wait to see how Reflections would look in the city.  Bridgeport wasn’t really working for me in terms of having an appropriate sized and positioned lot to place it, so I decided to use another user created city world that I like, Simkyo by Remma.  It’s amazing there!

Front Exterior – Simkyo

Front Exterior Simkyo Sunset

Front Exterior Simkyo – Night

I think Reflections is a natural for the city!  I could keep placing it in additional neighborhoods to see the effects, but I’d never get it released, so moving on…  Let’s look a little more closely at some of my favorite areas.  This is a huge build, so to really see it all, please take a look at my slideshow.

First, I love the layout of the roof level with all of the sports available.  There’s basketball, soccer, running/jogging tracks, and a trampoline.  Enjoy physical activity outdoors with a phenomenal view!

Basketball

Soccer

The swimming pool is another of my favorite outdoor areas.  It’s open but partially covered to protect your sims from the elements.  Placed in the right spot, the view from the pool can be incredible.

Closeup of Pool Area

View from Pool – Sunlit Tides

Moving inside to the ground floor, the multi-story, 4 sided rock climbing wall is sure to be a hit with your sims:

Climbing Structure from above

View from 2nd Floor Landing

Ground Floor View

The ground floor also features a unique martial arts studio; here I borrowed some ideas from a recent residential build, Cole’s Place.  As always, I’ve used in game photography to enhance and personalize the interior.  In this case, silhouette shots in vibrant colors add a great punch.

Martial Arts Studio

Speaking of punch, there’s also a boxing ring.  This is one of those art over functionality moments, but why not send your mean sims here to pick a fight and make it functional?

Boxing Ring

Feeling like a bit more peaceful activity is in order?  How about something that requires a combination of athleticism and exquisite grace?  Yep, it’s a ballet studio!

Ballet Studio

Every ballet studio needs a barre

In addition to the areas above, the ground floor also features weights, treadmills, women’s locker room and restroom, juice bar, and gift shop.  Please view the slideshow for images of these areas.

Making our way up to the second level, we can get a bit more risque with one of the trendiest exercises around these days, pole dancing:

Pick up some sexy new moves!

Sims peaking into the pole dancing area may need to head over for heart rate monitoring next; you can never be too careful!

Just how healthy are you? Here’s the place to find out!

This is definitely art over function again, but super cool looking, I think.  However, originally I had grander plans for this area.  I wanted to create my own version of stationary bikes:

Stationary Bikes

Unfortunately, community lots seem to be incompatible with bicycles.  I could get them on the lot via cheats and a mod, but they wouldn’t stay there, so I gave up on it.  Maybe EA will come out with an actual stationary bike at some point – we definitely need more exercise/gym equipment!

When your sims get tired of all that exercise, they can relax and unwind in one of the two spas on this level.  Each spa includes a sauna, massage tables, and a jacuzzi.

Entering the Spa

Massage Tables

Jacuzzi

Sauna

If your sim is interested in a new look, check out the nearby salon:

Get your hair done

Or try a complete makeover

The second floor also features aerobics, mens’ lockers and restroom, a step studio, yoga, exercises for elders, and racquetball.  To see the additional content, please view the slideshow.

Moving on to the third level, my favorite area is definitely the ocean/beach themed kids club.  I wanted to get creative but still include plenty of functionality and an ideal environment for babies, toddlers, and children to enjoy while their parents are working out.

As you can see, security is a priority!

There’s lots of fun and fantasy to experience here.

Note that toddlers and babies have their own secure little area.

Kids can explore behind the aquarium and discover a steerable seahorse (art over function here!)

Other areas I’m proud of on this level include what I call the Gaming Fitness room, which contains my version of a Kinect system and VR machines:

Get fit with the Kinect!

Virtual Reality Machines

I also set up an area for gymnastics:

My version of uneven bars

Mat for floor routines and balance beams

I have to show you the little office, too; it’s got a bit of a personal touch.  As I mentioned, I started a weight loss journey near the beginning of this project.  By December of 2012, I reached my goal.  I lost over 50 lbs and got into the best shape of my life, and this project became dearer to me throughout the months that I worked on diet and exercise to reshape myself (although ironically, I never went to a gym).  I thought that before and after shots would be a cute touch for an office, and I couldn’t resist taking shots of my sim avatar.  So when you see her before and after, you’re not too far from seeing mine!

Seek a consultation to learn how you can transform your body!

This level also features a fast walking studio (a nod to the program I used to lose weight and get fit), gyroscope room (get astronaut fit!), and a second pole dancing room as well as restrooms for both genders.  To see these areas, please view the slideshow.

Reflections is situated on a 50×50 lot and is custom content free!

Requirements for furnished version:  As I uploaded this version to the Exchange, you can view the detailed list and download the lot here.

I am not offering an unfurnished version of this build because I have ideas for making future use of it (possibly as a resort in Island Paradise), so I’d like to keep the shell proprietary, so to speak.  If you want to revise the lot in your own game, you are welcome to do so, but please do not re-upload it.

Annual Single Story Build Competition – Top 10 Homes

Bry’s Single Story Home Building Competition

I recently wrapped up my (now annual) Single Story Build competition.  I love hosting this contest, since it generates so many wonderful, easy-to-play lots.  The response this year was amazing – over 50 entries!  It was quite a task to review and judge them all.  I scored the entries across a number of categories, including architecture, interior design, landscaping, lighting, functionality, and forums presentation.  I also awarded bonus points for things like innovation, cool water features, attention to detail, excellence in decor, etc.  All homes are custom content free.  The builders this year really stepped up to the challenge and created some of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen in the game!  Without further ado, here are my top 10:

10. Rest Haven by Simphomaniac1

Rest Haven is an architectural wonder.  It was one of the two top scorers in that category due to the level of interest and detail put into the exterior.

rest1

I especially loved the effect of the diagonal slats in the outdoor pavillion building.

rest2

The pool area is brilliantly designed.

rest3

The interiors are nicely done.

rest4

I’m especially fond of the rooms that take advantage of the additional ceiling height.

rest5

rest6

9.  Fairytale Charm by WrathofCath

This home has a charming exterior with fanciful landscaping that I really enjoyed.

FT1

Wandering through the backyard, you will slip right into Spring as you are surrounded by lush flowers along the walkway.

FT2

You can pause to relax by the lovely small pond with water feature.

FT3

The interiors are nicely done as well, with a comfortable warmth to them.

FT4

I especially loved the romantic master bedroom.

FT5

8. Eyre House by liquidy

I really like the architecture and layout of Eyre House.  The diagonal garage attached to the house by a mostly glass walkway is an interesting touch.

Eyre1

The backyard is lovely, offering a great play area for the kids, a large shady patio, pool/jacuzzi, and large vegetable garden.

Eyre2

Eyre3

The interiors are nicely done; the master bedroom and bathroom with its step-up tub area were my two favorite interior spaces.

Eyre4

Eyre5

7. The Soho by Kementari

I was not super wild about this home’s architecture from the front, but taking a look from the back is a whole other story.  The level of detail really makes it stand out.

soho1

soho2

One particular spot I loved was the outdoor room with skylight.

soho3

Where this build really comes into its own though is in its interior design.  It is one of only two builds in the entire competition to achieve a nearly perfect score in that category.  I think the images from the interior will speak for themselves as to why.

soho5

soho6

soho7

6. Rise of the Phoenix by VanessaMendieta

Rise of the Phoenix’s architecture is unique.  I love the extreme high rise and the added ceiling height.  The neutral brick and woodwork is also well done.

rise1

The backyard with its windowed pool and jacuzzi + water feature is also obviously very eye catching.

rise2

The interiors are airy and chic with distinctive pops of color.

rise3

rise4

My favorite interior space was this funky little bedroom; I loved all the play with striping.

rise5

5. Dream House for Contest by Agnezawars

Agnezawars’ entry is inventive, well balanced and fun.  I appreciated the distinctive architecture and clean landscaping.

dream1

dream2

Placing bubble columns by the jacuzzi was a cute touch.  I didn’t take any pictures, but this home also has excellent night lighting.

Screenshot-2084

The interiors are colorful and creative.  In-game photography was used to nice effect.  Unfortunately, the images didn’t appear properly in my game, but you can see them as they were meant to be in Agnez’s photos here.

Screenshot-2086

4. Haven House by HappySimmer3

This home is well balanced, with good architecture, clean landscaping, and a nice interior.  The exterior is well proportioned with interesting details, and the excellent landscaping really enhances its curb appeal.

haven1

The interiors are crisp and clean, done in a very pleasant color palette, and I was pleased to see in game artwork used, as well as other little personal touches.

haven2

haven3

haven4

3. Modish and Modern by luvalphle

This build is quite impressive.  I love the modern architecture with a variety of heights and the creator’s choice of columns, pillars, and fencing to enhance the landscaping.

modish1

The home packs an extra punch at night with its exterior lighting.  I love the glow around the roof.  I think that lighting is an often overlooked asset to a great build.

modish2

The backyard pool area is lovely; I really appreciate the water effects cascading from the jacuzzi to the pool.

modish3

The interior is well planned out and nicely done as well.

modish4

modish5

2. Jewel of the Golden Sands by luckyheather

Jewel of the Golden Sands is like a desert dream come true; it shimmers with beauty inside and out.  The exterior architecture is clean and well proportioned.

jewel1

The landscaping and outdoor areas are beautifully done; I especially love the shaded pavillion area.

jewel2

The interiors are bright and modern, with a hint of the exotic.

jewel3

jewel4

jewel5

1. Chula Vista by Blacksand

While many of the the Top 10 homes were very close in score (some just fractions of points away from each other!), Chula Vista was the clear overall winner.  This home really has it all and received high marks across the board.  The exterior arhitecture is beautifully done, and the landscaping perfectly suits it.  It has a subtle, old-world charm.

chula1

The outdoor living areas are lovely and inventive.

chula2

chula3

The interiors are beautiful.  I love the colors and patterns and how well they flow together.

chula4

chula5

For a real touch of luxury, I adore the master bedroom.

chula6

This Top 10 really is a “best of the best.”  There are so many more wonderful builds that came very close to making it into the top that you really must stop by the thread and take a look.  I guarantee you’ll find the perfect single story home for your sims there!

I want to conclude this post by thanking all of the contest entrants – thanks to their hard work and creative insights, we have amazing options for single story play rather than a boring box!  Thanks as well to everyone who supported the contest with well deserved praise for the builders and encouragement to keep the thread moving along.  And last but certainly not least, thank you to my sponsors, Ivanna, DangerDanger, and Candyeyedsimmy, who jumped in to cover additional prizes; I so appreciate your support!

Big, Big News!

I just found out that I’m a finalist in the Design and Engineering category of EA’s Inspiring Creativity contest!  I could not believe it when I saw my name!  What an honor it is to be selected!  Of course, in order to actually win, I need votes.  I would really appreciate it if you would take a look at my entry, found here (note that the pictures take a bit to load).  If you like it, please vote for me!  You can vote daily.  I’m super happy just to be a finalist, but if I won…<mind boggling>!

Update:  I won!  It’s still hard to believe even now, but I actually won the contest!  I’m so excited and pleased.  I will be receiving a 3D printer, and I’m thrilled at the thought of what I might be able to create with it.

Status Update

It’s been a while, and I’m afraid I don’t yet have a new build complete.  I have so much going on in my daily life that I find very little time (and energy) to focus on building.  However, I am making progress on my gym, Reflections, and I don’t think it will take too much longer to complete.  Here are a couple of WIP pictures:

Front Exterior View

Back Exterior View

As you can see, it’s a huge structure, so the inside has taken some time to define, and I’m now in the process of furnishing and decorating.  I hope that this gym will offer something for everyone.  It will have the expected workout equipment, of course but also some surprises.  I’m building it in Sunlit Tides because I love the way the colors of the world are reflected in the mirrors on the building – they really show off the concept I was going for.  I think the structure could also work as a hotel/resort, and perhaps down the road with the Island Paradise expansion, I will explore that aspect of it.

I’ve also got a couple more builds going that are in the very early stages.  I’m not ready to show off WIP pictures of them yet, but I will show you the homes that inspired them:

Apache Peak

Chattanooga

Finally, I’m hosting a new building contest on The Sims 3 forums.  I’m challenging builders to create single story homes that are innovative and interesting.  I ran this same competition last year and had some excellent entries.  Interest seems strong this time around, and I’ve already got quite a few submissions.  The contest will be open until March 31st, so there’s plenty of time to join!  Click here if you’re interested (lurkers are welcome too!).