I got a question over the weekend that pushed me to do a post on the traits system I generously borrowed from Apple Valley and I really do appreciate it because I would be lost without it. I figured that simply emailing the traits list wouldn’t actually help since the disconnect wasn’t having a list of traits but actually implementing it. So here’s is how I use it:
Once I roll a trait for a Sim I spend a few minutes trying to get an idea of how these set of trait would affect a person, their relationships and their general view of the world. I think this is the best thing for story-telling because its gives you (the author) somewhere to start. This isn’t perfect because once I get into the game and play I find that my Sims make certain choices that influence my readings of how they interpret their own traits.
After I get the traits set up, I go into Simpe and manually adjust the personality points so that it fits closer to the traits that were rolled. Its the closest thing I can do to influence how each of them act since I’m still playing the Sims 2. This also makes it harder to get 3-bolters in my game because their points often vary so much.
For example, Arthur Heredon’s traits are brave, realistic and private and his game based personality is 6/4/9/4/3. His low number in Nice/Grouchy, Playful/Serious, and Outgoing/Shy makes is easier for his actions to translate with his private and realistic trait while his high number in Active/Lazy helps with the bravery. Arthur tends to spend more time by himself and isn’t often found goofing off with these points.
It takes a lot of guess work adjusting the points and its not always perfect but it gets some of the job done.
The Follow Through
The most important part of the traits system for me is reading into it and having it affect the way you write each of their voices, what pictures you include and any staging that you do. The Sims are still constrained by the original system and will act however they feel and its our jobs to give it a meaning.
One of the main things is reading into their wants and figuring out why someone who has a ____ aspiration and _____ traits wants that or needs that. What would motivates Marie, a Family/Romance Sim, who has critical, frugal, and sensitive traits to want to fall in love with her husband’s brother? This is where the traits really come into play.
I read that specific want as being born out of both Marie’s critical and sensitive traits. She’s Family/Romance Sim with a distant husband. Not only is she picking at the behavior of the man she’s loved since her teens but she feels unwanted by him because he’s never home. Then you add story from other households, maybe she sees the relationship John and Rachel have, full of passion and attention, and wants that.
I try to do this with all their major wants or certain actions they take, it even affects their friendships or why they made friends with a certain Sim. Fabrice impulsively moved his family from France, Gregory’s sternness often makes him decide on things without asking Nina, Gabriela often won’t question Joaquin’s decisions because she’s so devoted to him, etc.
That’s just how I roll game-wise. I usually keep my Excel sheet and Evernote open to help with keeping notes and character development. I hope it was helpful and gives insight into how I develop things and isn’t rambly like I think it is. LOL