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Basically, I'm trying to make a text-bases sims-like game. Obviously, making a text version of a graphical game while keeping it actually interesting to play is proving quite difficult.

One of my biggest problems is handling building. Initially, I was thinking of just letting furniture be purchased and just assume the house had room for everything. However, I was hoping to incorporate something equivalent to the legacy and apocalypse challenges for The Sims 2 (they were the ways I preferred to play the game). Problem is, these come with building restrictions that would be hard to ignore.

For instance, the 'middle of nowhere' 'handicap' for the legacy challenge forbids you from placing more than 2 segments of a construction per day. Meaning only 2 wall segments, windows, doors, etc, IN TOTAL per day. It also applies a one-furniture per day restriction, but not having that other feature I think nerfs the handicap too much. The apocalypse challenge is worse, because its NOT an optional feature. No structure in this challenge can be more than 8x8 tiles in size. You are allowed to build upper floors and basements though. I didn't see much point in implementing that latter feature obviously, but as I said it would be hard to ignore this. Its basically the entire part of the 'politics' restriction (a section of rules that must be followed until a character reaches the top of the politics career).

I'm starting to think this thing being 100% text-based is simply not doable. Perhaps it would be better for me to actually have some graphical element to the thing; at least make it so you can plan out structures. Thinking about that, maybe using pygame wouldn't be such a bad idea. I've had innumerable issues with it, but honestly it would probably do fine for a turn-based game. Also, it would make the whole text-based thing easier; I could just erase text and replace it rather than using the 'print' command to go to the next screen. This would also give me the option of having buttons and even using the mouse, which could be handy honestly. Of course, if I do that, what's the point of making the thing text-based? Why not just have it all be graphical? Outside of the fact that I could never hope to make enough assets for such a game even if I could.

Do I need to just add some graphical elements to this thing to some extent? Is there a way I can still do something like this using just text? Could I replace these mechanics with something else that would allow me to dodge having to put BUILDING ELEMENTS IN A TEXT GAME? Maybe I could come up with something else for the politics restriction? Or maybe just change it out for another career with a completely different theme? And what about that legacy handicap? Should I just not implement that? That would be easy, though I would prefer to put another handicap in there to replace it. You can still look up the rules for the Sims 2 Legacy and Apocalypse Challenges if you need to see what they already require. Note that they're not perfectly identical to the sims 3 and sims 4 equivalents, due the games not being identical in mechanics (obviously).

edit: If you don't want to look up the rules, I'll try to summarize things as best I can. In the Legacy challenge for The Sims 2, you're trying to play the game for 10 generations, while trying to accomplish various achievements (for lack of a better word) along the way. Handicaps are optional rules you can choose to follow in exchange for more points in the end. Handicaps always place some sort of restriction on your household in exchange for these extra points. Some handicaps include things like all sims must be fit before they reach adulthood and be obsessed with fitness, they must all share a hobby, you may only issue up to 3 commands to your characters per day, or the most extreme of all you have to play by the apocalypse challenge rules at the same time! If it matters, I was thinking of adding more of my own (namely a handicap called 'infiltration', where every generation must be born via alien abduction, a challenge that the original game doesn't even allow because sims born this way can't be impregnated by aliens themselves, making the chain impossible to continue).

Regarding the apocalypse challenge, it works by locking most of the game's features behind careers. These can include everything from certain social actions to most often furniture items. You unlock things by reaching the top of the game's various careers. The goal is to reach the top of every career and unlock everything. The problem with replacing the restrictions with the politics career is that virtually nothing is allowed at the start already (mainly due to the sheer number of new careers added by the expansions, the challenge was actually made before any of the expansions came out, and only became harder as a consequence). To give you an idea, you're straight not allowed to purchase furniture from most of the categories (for instance, the only items you can purchase that can fill the hygiene need are sinks), you can only use the lowest tiers of certain items, you can't even marry until you've completed at least one career. Point is, literally removing anything else would actually render the challenge impossible to complete. You literally have only the bare necessities and nothing more to complete this challenge. Essentially, politics would have to be implemented as-is, or the whole career just cut from the game in general. Obviously, I'm at an impasse with this.

edit2: thinking about it, I could just remove the handicap for the Legacy mode. This however doesn't solve the problem with the Apocalypse challenge. Still, either way I need to come up with a way to do this in a purely text-based game, add graphics, or find some alternative I can replace it with.

edit3: Thinking about it again, perhaps this simply isn't the best sort of game for this sort of challenge. Why not just make a game specifically designed around rebuilding the world after an apocalypse? This does remove an entire planned game mode from my game, though I was thinking of adding other challenges anyway. It also removes one of the few handicaps that offers more than 1 point to the final score for the Legacy challenge, but oh well. Guess I'll have to add 4 points worth of other handicaps to replace it, and everything will be the effectively the same. Or maybe I could just ignore it entirely. My game won't be a complete clone of the sims 2 anyway, so its not like I'm not having to ditch a few other handicaps and rules anyway.

edit4:Looking over the handicaps for the Legacy challenge, I wouldn't be able to incorporate more than half of them without having buildings. A particularly problematic one is the 'hypochondriac' handicap, which requires one, among many things, to quarantine a sick sim in a single room for a whole week. Not only would I need buildings for this, I would also need a freaking pathfinding algorthm.

I'm beginning to question if this can even be done. It appears the legacy challenge actually needs buildings more than the freaking apocalypse challenge. Maybe I need to make my game and come up with its own equivalent to the legacy and apocalypse challenges. I would need to fully replicate all the functionality of the Sims 2 for me to use these challenges as-is. Aside for the legal issues this may cause (not that I was planning on releasing my game for profit, actually I was just making it so I could play the Sims 2 again). Its not possible to fully replicate all its functions in a text game anyway, and looking over strategy guides the game had far, far more features than I was aware of when I played it. I probably only explored less than half of that game's features despite playing it for years.

Sorry for the tangent, guess I need to just make my own game without trying to figure out how to implement everything from its inspiration, and then come up with my own game modes that are actually fully compatible with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Assume readers will not go do research on other sites to understand your question. Try to include any information they need in the body of the question itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Nov 1, 2023 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is, there's so many rules, far too many to post here. The apocalypse challenge in particular is infamous for its ludicrous number of rules. To give you an idea, the game with all its expansions has a grand total of 28 career paths, all of which must be completed to complete the challenge. Each of them has at least a half dozen, sometimes DOZENS of restrictions tied to them. Either way, I guess I could post more info. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 1, 2023 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like you might need to do a little more legwork then, boiling this question down to specific criteria for success that we can compare proposed design solutions against. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Nov 1, 2023 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's best not to segregate edits behind "edit1/2/3:" headings. They make speed bumps on the way to understanding your question. Instead, you can rewrite the question as a whole, as though you already had those thoughts / included that information as part of the very first draft. If anyone is ever curious about the full blow-by-blow of which words were added when, that's tracked automatically by the site, so you don't need to implement your own labelling. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Nov 1, 2023 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Either way, I'm clearly getting no answers to this. Besides, as my last edit shows I'm thinking its better if I just make a new Legacy and Apocalypse challenge that is compatible with my game, rather than trying to essentially make it compatible with a mod from another game (they're not technically mods granted, they're just sets of rules you have to follow yourself, but honestly that may be as well be what I'm trying to do). \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 1, 2023 at 23:55

1 Answer 1

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The big advantage of text-based games is that most of the gameplay happens in the player's head. That means you can often abstract complex game mechanics to a point where they become trivial to design and implement, without it affecting the players suspension of disbelieve.

For example, let's take the furniture building system. How could this mechanic be described in an abstract way?

  • The player can acquire furniture
  • The dwellings of the player only has a limited amount of space
  • Each acquired furniture takes up space, which means that the amount of furniture the player can own is limited.

In a visual game, you would implement that with a 2d (or even 3d) space where players move and place furniture items that must not overlap with each other or with walls. The player is going to need a solid UI to place those things. Pathfinding and adjacency effects might have to be considered. This can be a feature that can get pretty complex to design and implement. And we haven't even talked about the art assets yet.

But in a text-based game, you can get away with a much simpler implementation. You can make "living space" simply a scalar resource.

  • The dwellings of the player has x units of space
  • Each piece of furniture takes up y units of space.
  • By comparing x and y, you can calculate a "crampedness factor" that can be used to affect the sim's quality of life.

Example:

You are living in a tiny (25 m²) apartment.

In your apartment you have:
* Small Bed (2 m²)
* Medium wardrobe (2 m²)
* Wilting Houseplant (1 m²)
* High-tech refrigerator (1 m²)
* Cook-o-matic 2000 stove (1 m²)
* Kitchen counter (2 m² )
* Kitchen sink ( 1 m² )
* Large dining table ( 4 m² )
* Bathtub with shower ( 2 m² )
* Basic Toilet ( 1 m² )
* Basic sink with mirror ( 1 m² )

With 18 / 25 m² occupied by furniture, your apartment feels EXTREMELY CRAMPED to live in.

1 => manage furniture
2 => go furniture shopping
3 => look for a bigger apartment
4 => back

Regarding the "middle of nowhere challenge" and "apocalypse mode": Instead of trying to get as close as possible to the original mechanics from the game you are trying to replicate, it might be better to approach these from a different angle.

  1. What exactly is the fantasy those game modes are supposed to convey?
  2. How can that fantasy be sold in a text-based game?

I have never played The Sims and I never heard of these self-imposed challenges. But I assume that the idea is to simulate a sim trying to survive without human civilization. Instead of looking at this through the lense of the building system, it might be better to take a more holistic view of how such a situation could be represented using all the game mechanics you have available, and not just building. Remember, this is your game. You are not bound to the restrictions of modders or people coming up with self-imposed challenges. You can alter the very foundation of the game to craft the experience you want.

Again, I don't know your game and I don't know your inspiration. But I would imagine that the primary challenge would be that procurement of food and furniture becomes a lot more difficult in such a world, which could be represented with a much higher time investment for doing this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I was already thinking of doing the 'room space' thing you described. Didn't really think about incorprating a 'cramped' mechanic though. I was just going to assume that the 'space' a piece of furniture takes up also includes the minimum space you would need around the object to actually use it. Though I was going to implement a 'storage room' mechanic, where you could designate a room for storage. This would double the effective space you have in that room, but you wouldn't be able to actually make use of any of the furniture in that room until it was moved to a non-storage area. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 3, 2023 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ That said, the point of challanges in the Sims 2 is basically to give you a goal. Normally its a sandbox game with no actual goal in mind. Challenges are meant to help mix up the gameplay, but also often just increase the difficulty. This is the main purpose of the apocalypse challenge; the point was to make it actually hard to complete. It works by forcing you to survive using just a handful of cheap items, and as you progress you can unlock more items to use gradually making things easier. I don't think I've ever actually heard of anyone seriously completing it though. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 3, 2023 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I admit I was thinking of changing the theme of the challenge. the vanilla challenge's story is that a nuclear plant melted down. I was thinking of changing this to something more interesting to me, such as a nature goddess destroying the world due to humans destroying the environment (this was something I had in mind back when I played the game). Or maybe actually change it to you playing a bunch of cavemen and you're actually trying to discover different techs as you go along. Basically, the story needs to be about unlocking techs over multiple generations in some form. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 3, 2023 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another comment, maybe I could do something with the 'middle of nowhere' achievement. The point of it is to make it hard to get things. I could implement that in a different way. I was thinking of having one of the vehicles available be a pick-up truck, so you could have your sims save money by hauling stuff themselves to the house. I could increase the cost of items that are shipped, making it more worthwhile to just fetch stuff yourself. I could also increase the time it actually takes to get to community lots. That would surely be worthwhile. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 3, 2023 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dealing with the politics restriction in the apocalypse challenge though is far harder. Like, what does having a government actually do? You don't technically need a government to have laws and enforcement (this was the case in a lot of towns in the old west, and was true in my town for a while until its police force was merged with that of a neighboring town). What do they do mostly? They enact laws and deal with foriegn governments. What effect would that have on everyday life? Its hard to imagine really, at least when it comes to stuff that would be applicable to this game. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175083
    Nov 3, 2023 at 22:37

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