Moon Sims

The Research Project

Here's a fun research project that everybody can participate in, even if you have never seen The Sims game and don't have the foggiest notion of how to create characters and objects for the game.

We need to survey all the Sims web sites and identify things that fit the Livin' Luna scenario. Surfing around the Sims webs can be a riot. The ingenuity of devotees to this game continues to boggle my mind. So here's a chance to have lots of fun while making a seriously significant contribution to getting us on the road to the moon.

( Want a full-scale T-rex movie prop in your front yard? It's available from the 7 Deadly Sims web site. Unfortunately I can't think of any way to fit a T-rex into a Livin' Luna scenario. :)

When you find some good Livin' Luna stuff, copy the URL of the web page it's on into an email message. Add a note about the name of the web site you are visiting, what objects on that page look like Livin' Luna goodies, and any notes you want to about why they'd fit well into the scenario.

When you've got a note ready, you could:

  1. post the note here for everybody's enjoyment, or
  2. email it to, or
  3. put /moonsins/livinluna/somename.txt in the subject line and email it to

Short notes identifying just one object at a time are better, but of course a long shopping list would be welcome, too. So your research doesn't need to be laborious. Just check out a Sims site, find an object, and ask yourself whether or not it might be found in a household in the Luna City Cavern

What to look for in objects

Objects in The Sims are mostly the basic domestic things you'll find in just about any house anywhere in the world. What we're looking for in the Livin' Luna scenario is things that might be cost-effectively made from in-situ material or things we would expect to find in the Luna City Cavern 100 years from now, with a minimum amount of imports. That generally means:

  1. No wood
  2. No plastic
  3. Conservative use of fabric
  4. Lots and lots and lots of plants
  5. Creative use of stone
  6. Cement blocks, not brick
  7. Creative use of metal
  8. Walls with handrails
  9. Handrails on everything else
  10. Wall-mounted lighting
  11. Minimal dependence on the gravity field (Refer to the Great Coffee Pot debate here on artemis-list.)
  12. Extensive automation and electronics
  13. Any obvious space-related or astronomical stuff
  14. Personal flying equipment
  15. Space suits (There's one in the game -- an Apollo surface suit -- but it's a career skin that a character only wears when going to work or coming home from work as an astronaut. No helmet, either.)
  16. Wall-mounted lights (Table lamps and floor lamps depend on gravity; and The Sims doesn't show ceilings.)
  17. Rock gardening or hydroponic facilities
  18. Outdoor stone textures (They would be in the "floors" sections of a Sims web site.)
  19. Rocks
  20. Electric cars
  21. Pressurized vehicles for surface transportation
  22. Robotic mining equipment

Objects come in all categories -- everything you would find in the living room, kitchen, dining room, bed room, den, and outdoors.

In my brief excusion into the web yesterday I found that cabinets might be a serious problem. I found only one cabinet that didn't have a lot of wood in either the top or the carcass. It was designed as a bathroom cabinet, but works in the game as a kitchen cabinet.

Of course, folks on Luna could add paint and textures to anything to make it look like wood and plastic, so logically you could find just about anything in Luna City. However, since we are presenting the unique nature of the moon so I would prefer to list objects that emphasize Livin' Luna.

What to look for in clothing

Clothing in Luna City will be much the same as clothing in any city on Earth. Shorts and jumpsuits might be popular because things stay in formation even in low gravity, but there's no reason to expect them to be any more popular on Luna than on Earth.

Any clothing that depends on gravity will present an interesting problem for designers. The only example I can think of is loose-fitting skirts or kilts. Heinlein's Lazarus Long was fond of wearing a kilt, even on the moon; but no, I don't think so. The problem is that people will bounce around a lot on the moon. In low gravity, the air currents on the descending part of a bounce would make the skirt want to fly up. Descending stairs and ramps would do it, too. And, with all that bouncing about, you can't count on the viewer's eye level being higher than your hemline.

Visitors from Earth are likely to wear loose-fitting clothing, especially on the upper body. Astronaut gear is designed to adjust as fluids move upwards. This is a serious design challenge -- ladies can add three inches to their bustline after just a week of zero g. Guys get bigger, too, but less dramatically. T-shirts are popular among astronauts because they can be two sizes too big on Earth and still look good, while accommodating the changes that happen in zero g.

Clothing, and especially foundation garments, have to accommodate this change in body shape or the traveler will be very uncomfortable during a Luna City vacation.

Special notes on space suits

We need to create special body meshes for space suits. Then players who want to send their Sims to the moon can replace the standard "formal" body meshes with space suit meshes. Characters in The Sims have four basic outfits they can change into when they are next to any chest of drawers:

  • Normal
  • Swimsuit
  • Pajamas
  • Formal

The only time they use their formal clothes is for the five-second wedding that happens when two sims get married, or when the player tells the character to change into formal clothing. So this is a natural for replacing the formal bodies with space suit bodies, and offering space suit skins to go with the characters' indoor clothing.

All the player loses is the option for changing into a tuxedo or wedding dress. Or we might rather say that the player gains the fact that the bride and groom put on space suits to get married!

The next step is to create some space suit lockers starting with the chests of drawers. Players would put the space suit lockers next to an airlock. (An airlock is easy to SIMulate: just build a small room with doors on both ends, with one door leading outside. If we can make doors that look like an airlock hatch, so much the better!)

With the space suit locker and airlock in place, all the player needs to do is to tell the sim to change into the spacesuit on the way out the door, and the play will be consistent with life in the moon. The player would have to stay on top of this because there is no way in The Sims to punish a character for walking outside the airlock in a bikini.

Side note: It is possible to tell a Sims character to change his normal clothing to any outfit that is available in the player's catalog, but the way they implemented is a royal pain. You have to page through every outfit that's available to find the one you want, which can take two or three hours of real time and sometimes more than two days of game time. The guys at Maxis must have gone seriously brain-dead the day they came up with that design for the user interface.

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