Pic of the day: Sooner or later your neighborhood approaches full. (Picture from the Norwegian version of Plesantview.)
I don't think most Sims2 players have really understood how revolutionary this concept is. I certainly didn't, until recently.
In The Sims 2, the largest unit of the game is the Neighborhood. The game comes with 3 complete neighborhoods, each with a different flavor. Since Sims now have a limited lifespan (unless you turn Aging Off), you will need to play ever new ones. This will normally take the form of the children of the existing Sims, because Sims can have children now, and most of them want to have at least one. Family Sims tend to want heaps of them, although this is only possible if you give them Elixir of Life, which comes from fulfilled wants. Otherwise adult life is too short to have more than a very few children. The children grow up and can then marry "townies", computer-controlled characters. (They become player-controlled when they move in, though.) If you use up a substantial part of the townie population, the game will make new ones. Still, there are limits to growth.
One limit is that around 750 Sims, living or dead, the game begins to grow unstable. (Unless you have Nightlife or higher expansion packs.) Weird glitches show up and the game eventually becomes unplayable. It does not literally explode in a big fireball visible from outer space, but this is an expression popular among Sims2 players to warn against the danger of unchecked growth. The other problem, of course, is that if population growth exceeds death, you will eventually run out of room. Repeated family Sims can have this effect, in the original game and also with the University expansion. But not with Nightlife or Open for Business.
Both of these expansions (and probably Pets too) raise the number of Sims you can have before the game becomes unstable. Tests has shown that a couple thousand works fine; I am not sure if anyone knows where the limit is today. In any case, this leaves the other problem. Luckily both Nightlife and Open for Business have a solution that gives you unlimited neighborhoods. Yes! Seriously! There are no limits to growth anymore, except your own free time. The new feature is sub- neighborhoods, or "subhoods" as they are often called for short.
In Nightlife they are called downtowns, in Open for Business they are called shopping districts. There is one ready-made subhood for each expansion. "Downtown" is almost completely filled with places of entertainment such as restaurants, parks, dance clubs and bowling alleys. There are a few houses, although nobody lives in them until you move someone in. The ready-made shopping district, Bluewater, has a healthy mix of families and small businesses. But in truth, you can make your own subhoods and fill them with any mixture you want of residential and commercial property, same as the original neighborhood.
Now comes the good part: All the subhoods are connected with each other and with the "parent" neighborhood. So the Sims from one will be found walking past the house in another (although the locals seem to be more frequent), and shops or parks in any district will have visitors from all others. So you could have nine subhoods each with ten families, and ten families in the primary neighborhood as well, and all these 100 families could become friends and intermarry, for Sims can move from one subhood to another (including the main neighborhood). This is completely different from two separate basic neighborhoods, such as Strangetown and Veronaville. You can play one of those and never meet anybody from the other, no matter how long you keep it up.
You can use the subhoods to simply overcome the lack of space. Or you can use it to create flavor, like in the two ready-made ones, or other flavors. You could have ethnically themed neighborhoods (but would you really want to do that? I mean, what would that say about YOU? Well, I guess it is OK if they are all just various types of whites) or you could have starter neighborhoods with small lots and cheap houses, then when your Sims get richer they could move to a neighborhood with somewhat larger lots and more refined architecture, and perhaps eventually into an exclusive villa village. Some Sims might prefer to live in a vibrant downtown where the beat goes on all night long, while others may tend their large gardens surrounded by beautiful parks. It is all up to you.. because there is no longer limits to growth, except for your own lifespan.
As a rule of thumb, having many subhoods should not slow down your machine. For instance even if you have many subhoods packed with people, the number of Sims that walk by your house will stay the same. It is not like there will be an unending parade of them; it will just be that many more to choose from, meaning that each will pass by more rarely. Likewise on community lots: There will not be a surge of visitors just because you have a lot of neighborhoods filled with playable Sims; there will just be more variation (and fewer townies).
Notice that the game will not generate new townies when you create a new subhood. Each main neighborhood has a fixed set of townies, the computer-generated and computer-controlled Sims. When you create a blank main neighborhood, the townies from Pleasantview will show up. Each expansion pack brings more townies (though either all or most of those in Pets will have 4 legs). But creating a subhood will not add any more of them. They all live in the invisible places between the neighborhoods. You can never visit them, but the game will make sure there are enough of them should they die (or marry, or otherwise move in... I guess to move in is to die a bit!)
Somehow I suspect I have failed to convey the awesome awesomeness of this invention, but it was worth a try. Not so much for those who just make self-sims of their family and play once in a blue moon. But for those who really enjoy making imaginary people and their world, their canvas and their clay suddenly became limitless. Happy Simming!
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.