Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sims 3 Island Paradise resort tips and tricks mega-post

This is a work in progress, so it may see some edits down the line. I hope that the information here spares people from having to Google problems over and over, fishing through forum posts like I did.

I now have six resorts built, which make a good rundown of how many amenities various amounts of guests expect, complete with pictures of the individual resort designs. You can check that out by clicking here if it tickles your fancy.

A'ight, onwards!

Resort basics:

- Read Carl's Resort guide, a real life-saver for any budding resort owner. Seriously, go read it if you're just starting out on resort ownership, then come back here. Otherwise, read on at your leisure. If you got to this blog post via a Google search and are looking for a specific tip, scan the content below or use the Find command (ctrl+f for most browsers) to jump to specific keywords.

The other basics, related to Sims 3 in general and very necessary for resorts:

- You should have the NRAAS mods Master Controller (with Master Controller Integration), Overwatch, and Register installed. Seriously, go get them. Overwatch stops your game from grinding to a halt even on the best gaming computers, due to a car-related bug EA hasn't bothered fixing and at this rate, never will. Master Controller is technically a huge bank of cheats, but is very useful for getting around game-breaking glitches when nothing else will work. It's also good for aging-up NPC pets and babies/toddlers that are causing unroutable Sim issues. Register will let you turn off wild animals, the ability for NPCs to adopt pets, immigration, and tourists, which is very necessary if you are playing the Isla Paradiso world (if you want to play that world, see the last point in this section). Note that Overwatch counts boats as vehicles and may end up deleting your boats during cleanup sessions. You really do need Overwatch to play Sims 3, so don't bother buying boats at all. The boat taxi will take you anywhere you need to go.

- Use multiple saved games. For example, I have eight saved games for any town I seriously care about. I name it something initially, like "Isla Paradiso" (which is the default suggestion for that world), and then add numbers to the saved game name for seven more saves. So, "Isla Paradiso 2" would be next, then "Isla Paradiso 3" and so on until the last one, "Isla Paradiso 8". After that, I backspace out the numbers and the space, so that I save over my very first saved game again, "Isla Paradiso". Then I start adding numbers again. I save through the sequence of numbers that way, over and over, so that if one save corrupts, I have seven others to go back to. I don't save all 8 saves every time of course, so the progress on each saved game would be staggered back in time the further back in the sequence I would have to go to recover from a save corruption... but it's better than nothing. I also back up all of the saved game folders to a backup folder on my main drive, along with another backup folder on my other hard drive after each play session. You may think using multiple saves is a no-brainer but I am surprised how many Simmers only have one saved game, or two at most. For reference, in a very busy and very modified town with a lot of households personally played, 8 saved games will be about 4.5gb of space. A town with only a few lots edited by you will be roughly 500-700mb for 8 saved games.

- Zombies don't seem to do much on resorts, and you really, reeeally want the Supernatural expansion for Bonehildas as will be mentioned later.

- If you want to play the Isla Paradiso world, it was shipped unplayable due to lag... because... it's EA. Get the fixed version here and be sure to carefully follow the instructions for backing up the original world and installing the fixed one. The fixed world still has a few lag issues, hence why NRAAS Register becomes necessary. Sadly, if you have already invested a lot of time in an unfixed Isla Paradiso world, this fix will do nothing for your current saved games. NRAAS Register may still help cut down some of the lag, and you can check the fix list posted with the world fix linked above to edit the town yourself and get the same results.

Planning for guests:

- You will not actually see very many guests visible at the resort, even at full occupancy. This is most likely because the game can't handle running that many people on one lot while it is also running your visible resort employees, your household Sims, and the entire rest of the town. Thus, think of the majority of your resort guests as "invisible." We'll call this "the invisible guest rule." Your greatest feedback from these guests is in the reviews, where you might see things like complaints about the hot tubs being too crowded, even if you can look around your lot and see that there is plenty of room in the hot tubs. It's the invisible guests you have to keep in mind, so pay attention to reviews.

- Bathrooms are not as huge a necessity as you might think. One all-in-one bathroom per VIP room should be plenty, and a few of them outside on the ground level of the resort near the pool area and the gym equipment should suffice. I overdid it on my first resort, so I am not sure if it's possible to get "not enough bathrooms" reviews. You can always add more all-in-ones if you see such a review pop up, or see problems with the guests who are actually visible on the lot.

- Dining rooms only need about 4-8 seats per 150 people, and I'm not sure it matters after that due to the invisible guest rule. At 137 occupants, I saw about 3 or 4 people at the most eating at one time; usually the huge dining room I had made for them was empty. At a different resort with 144 occupants, 7 guests convened for dinner, two failed to properly sit down to eat after they set their food down on the tables (because the game is stupid about that even for household Sims), but everybody seemed happy and I had 16 chairs available in the dining area just in case. You can build a grand dining room if you want, but it doesn't seem necessary. (Note that I consider this not properly tested still, so if you get reviews related to not enough seating, put out a bunch of small tables with four seats and a table umbrella/shade each if they are outside. Those can go anywhere on the lot.)

- No matter how awesome you make your VIP rooms, you will rarely see them occupied, even when your hotel is at full occupancy (which means your VIP rooms also have people in them). This is due to the invisible guest rule. Thus, bed(s) and a bathroom of some sort is really all you need for a basic VIP room. VIP room beds raise the number of guests you can have at your resort, one per spot a person can sleep. Cribs do not count, it seems no NPCs younger than child age take vacations in Sims. VIP rooms also raise your star rating, so having a few is a good idea even though rabbit-hole resort towers hold many more occupants.

- VIP locks are mildly confusing, so pay attention to menu commands for the door as well as what lock is on it when you mouse over the "Add New VIP Room Lock" greyed-out option without clicking it (which will be present if it has a VIP lock on the door). You can either use the same lock on another door to make a suite, or add a new VIP lock. You can have a maximum of 6 VIP locks, numbered 0 through 5.

- Sadly, children's toys and items don't really seem to get any use. The only child-related thing guests seem to care about in reviews is that there is kid's food available from the buffet. You can make a playground and/or a playroom if you like, but don't expect to see anyone use it. Maybe the invisible guests do, who knows? I have never seen toddlers or babies with the guests either, and placing a crib in a VIP room does nothing useful at all.

- Televisions, computers, and related items can get randomly used by guests, though much less frequently than the pool, hot tubs, and other more resort-like items. I built a theater with a big-screen TV and lots of seating, but have only seen one person in there at a time, and it's usually empty. You can also place bookshelves which will self-stock with books (different style shelves have different book titles in them), so you can build a nice reading room and guests will use it every once in a while. I have no idea if any of these items impress invisible guests or not.

Upgrades on items:

- Put "Unbreakable" on everything you possibly can. I'm not kidding. Everything. The Plumber challenge reward does not work on resort items, they will always break (even when nobody is using them, due to the invisible guest rule). Note that items that claim to be Unbreakable in the item description of Build & Buy will break on a resort lot, and cannot be upgraded to Unbreakble. Save your time and money and get the most expensive version that can still be upgraded to Unbreakable.

- Put "Fireproof" on fireplaces and any other items that have that upgrade if they are not automatically fireproof. I have not actually dealt with potential fire-hazard items on a resort lot yet, so this is a common-sense precaution.


- Set your resort stay pricing to expensive if you are pimping out the joint right away. Otherwise, set it to what feels like makes sense for the amenities you have currently. If you're in the gray area of not having the greatest amenities yet, watch your resort finances (revenue and expenses) to judge if it's your stay pricing turning visitors away, versus amenities offered. A lot of this is guesswork and trial and error. I tend to turn everything on full-boar and see what happens after a day or two, but my Sims were already rich before they started resort investing.

- Make sure all shifts have employees hired for them, at all available stations except for maintenance (do not hire maintenance unless you do not have the Supernatural expansion, see next point). So be sure there are all shifts covered for the front desk, pool bars, and food carts.

- Repair and cleaning: Bonehildas, Bonehildas, Bonehildas. Seriously, get one or two of these and do not hire any maintenance workers because they are buggy and useless, even at high quality. Don't be tempted to hire those lazy loafs to raise your star rating either, it's not worth it... unless you notice your resort seems stuck at 4.5 stars like one of mine was, even with completely-happy reviews. All it took was hiring one high-quality maintenance guy to hit 5 stars, go figure. The other exception to the "don't hire maintenance" rule is if you are running multiple resorts; at that point, the Bonehildas tend to bug out so you should hire high-quality maintenance people (as many as you think are necessary based on how things are going at the resort) and either let the Bonehildas continue to help when they aren't bugging out, or just sell them. Obviously, if you don't have the Supernatural expansion, you do need to hire maintenance and will just have to cross your fingers. You can buy Bonehilda coffins from the Sort By Function tab in Buy mode, under Entertainment and then Miscellaneous Entertainment. As a bonus, not only do Bonehildas clean, repair (handy if not all your breakable items are upgraded to Unbreakable yet), and stomp roaches, they can get into VIP-locked rooms!

- Note on the "something just broke" sound effect: it appears to apply to items becoming dirty as well, like counters. Thus, if you know all your items are upgraded to Unbreakable and you keep hearing that sound, check for dirty items (or ignore it while Bonehilda does the work).

- Turn on Room Service and Spa Services on all your resort tower-type buildings (the rabbit holes, aka the beach cabins, villas, and modern skyscraper buildings in the Resort items tab of Buy mode).

- Chlorinate all pools. The guests will complain about the chlorine in some reviews, but they also mention that at least the pool is clean. It appears to be the lesser of two evils (and more expensive), because if there is no chlorine, there is no way to clean the pool and guests will complain that it's dirty.

- Have eight buffet tables set to high food quality, each with a different type of food so that there are no categories missing. No guest will ever complain about the food and their reviews will say they love it.

- Have at least one food cart and one pool bar. Set the food cart to high quality and the pool bar specials to the most expensive option (Fresh-N-Fruity). If reviews state they wish there were more of either of those, add one at a time if you have the room. My 137-occupancy resort started getting "I wish there were more pool bars" reviews even though I had two, so I added one more and haven't heard a peep about it since. Two food carts have been sufficient for that occupancy as well.

- Set the water temperature on hot tubs to hot, and keep an eye out for reviews that say the hot tubs are crowded; if you have room, add one at a time until there are no more complaints.

- Get two fire walks to avoid "fire walks are too crowded" reviews right off the bat (get a third if you see them pop up, three seems perfect for 137 people because I had enough room to start with that). The default setting of hot appears to be fine, I wouldn't change it. One reviewer said they burned their feet even at that setting, but that "they wouldn't change a thing" so apparently they're happy with it set to hot.


- Roaches and trash piles can spawn on invisible floors, aka the ones that are above an enclosed room, even if that "floor" is directly under a proper roof. I gave up on normal roofs after a while because the problem was so bad, and ended up doing all balcony-style roofs (floor tile with fences around the edges) with ladders leading up to them. That way the Bonehildas can access bugs and trash on every level. A good hint that you have roaches or trash spawning where they can't be reached is if a Sim, Bonehilda, or maintenance worker (if you don't have Supernatural) runs to any edge of the lot, then stomps their foot and waves because they can't reach something.

- Another reason a Sim can run to the edge of a lot, then stomp and wave and holler, is because something needs repaired and something else is in the way. Example: broken television with video game system on the floor in the way.

- One more thing that can potentially cause guest Sims to stomp and wave because they can't reach something, is items beyond a VIP door lock that aren't actually in the locked room but must be accessed through it. For example, if you have chairs on a deck or balcony that can only be accessed through the VIP room, other guests will try (and fail) to get to those items. They will generally wander off after a few failed attempts, though initially they will probably run to the edge of the lot to throw their "I can't reach it" tantrum. Neat guests may also do this if trash or bugs are in or above a VIP room and Bonehilda hasn't gotten to dealing with the problem yet.

- Roaches can spawn underground, so if you cannot find the bugs but resort reviews say they exist (or you have stomping and waving Sims trying to clean up), save your game, pause it, and then put in a basement everywhere you can. Note that this can glitch some trees and plants down to the lower level, but you can pick them up and place them back where they belong on the ground level. Put bright lights in the basement and a light or white-colored flooring tile everywhere down there, unpause the game, and look carefully for little red scurrying bugs. If you see them, put in a couple of inconspicuous ladders and leave the basement there indefinitely so the Bonehildas can squash the bugs. If you see no bugs in the basement, reload your saved game so you don't have to destroy the basement (which is a glitchy and annoying process). Sometimes you can see the actual roach spawners by using the Buydebug cheat and move them to the ground floor, but the spawners aren't permanent and will vanish when the bugs are squashed, then new ones spawn in random locations later.

Speaking of roaches, it's best to avoid building a resort on anything other than a relatively flat lot. I tried a small test resort on a very hilly, small island... and the roach spawners showed up under the hills where you can't build basements to get to them. Guests would sometimes manage to get to them to squash them, but it's generally a bad idea. Sad that the game shipped that way, because islands like that can make really unique resort locations.

- Ladders are your friend when building a resort, but note that they are somewhat glitchy once you have placed them and left Build / Buy mode. The top square it eats through appears to become permanently unbuildable on upper levels; I have yet to find a way to fix that. It will also glitch the ground-level square if you use a ladder to a basement, but you can fill that hole back in by adding a square of swimming pool there, then deleting the pool square. (Credit to zeldahappy24 on the old Sims 3 forums for the pool-square trick, thank you!)

- Beach cabin style rabbit-hole buildings (the cheapest group cabins and the single cabin) have three possible color schemes, but seem to be very buggy. I've read on forums that sometimes gaining a star in ratings will unlock the color schemes, but I've also seen people say they've never had the ability to customize those two buildings. I saw it once on a game I didn't save, and after starting a second resort in my actual game, I can't get new beach-cabin style buildings to customize... but upon reaching 5 stars they were still not customizable, nor have they been customizable on further days (so far). I've also tried placing those buildings as a test at other 5-star resorts but the customize option isn't there either.

- Personal items used as decor (like sculptures and paintings your Sims made themselves, gemstones, wildflowers they picked, etc.) do not seem to count towards star rating but they will grant the usual boost towards the Decorated, Nicely Decorated, and Beautifully Decorated moodlets. If you save the resort to the library or edit the town in any sort of major way, the game may put every single one of these items back in family inventory, so keep that in mind if you want a hassle-free resort lot. Your best results will come from using only items bought (or cloned) on the resort lot, even if it feels less personal to you.

- Regarding the above point, generally the rule for resorts is, "if you can clone it, you can own it." You may notice that dishwashers are not available in Buy mode for resorts; they are not needed for guests but you might want one or more for aesthetics, realism, or your household Sims' needs (not sure if older versions might be different, but the current patch just has the dishes vanish off tables when guests are done eating). If you want a dishwasher, or any other cloneable item that can't be bought on the resort lot, buy it on your home lot and put it in family inventory. Go to the resort lot, take it out of family inventory and place it somewhere on the resort lot. Clone it and sell the original. The cloned version counts as resort property.

- Any item you bought ahead of time on your home lot to get a "jump" on upgrades will also count as your personal property and not resort property. I recommend never going this route (I learned this lesson the hard way). Always buy (or clone) items on your resort lot and upgrade them there. You can always close the resort the moment you buy it, so you have plenty of time to upgrade items without worrying about guests or paying resort bills. Open the resort once you are happy with the state of items (especially those in VIP rooms).

- Guests will complain in reviews if there is not enough plant life. By far the easiest way to make them happy, plus get a ton of credit towards raising star rating, is to plant small and regular bamboo. The base takes up the least amount of space (you can cram four per square if you want), and you can make a nice screening "wall" somewhere that will give you lots of those lovely blue plus signs of star-rating approval.

- As mentioned earlier, Bonehildas can get into VIP rooms, but your household Sims can't. If you need to get into a VIP room for any reason, add a new door that doesn't have a VIP lock (leave the VIP-locked door where it is), and have your Sim walk through it. Put the unlocked door in family inventory, make the Sim do whatever they need to do in the room, then place the unlocked door again for just long enough to get your Sim out of the room. Be sure to remove the unlocked door immediately afterwards (visible guests can and will use it to sleep in beds they didn't pay for). While your Sim is in the room, they may randomly be forced to "Get Out" which you cannot cancel, but they will successfully use the VIP-locked door to leave the room. Just get out your handy unlocked door to make them go back into the room again if you need to; I figure the room just sold when it cues the Get Out action, because it's fairly rare.

- I do not know if resorts need a security system, but I usually put one burglar alarm on an outside wall of one of the resort buildings just in case.

- This might seem like a no-brainer, but unless you are doing some sort of personal challenge, make money ahead of time before buying a resort or converting a lot to a resort. Mistakes don't matter as much when you're already rich, and the stress level is much lower when you know you can take a few days of losses without it doing much damage to your finances. For a large resort, $300,000-$500,000 is comfy to start with, and over a million bucks makes things a breeze.

- Expect your resort to lose money on the first day. In my 137-occupancy resort, I broke even on the second day. Don't be tempted to reduce quality on anything or remove employee shifts, because doing so will make your hotel less desirable. If the resort does end up failing somehow, re-open it and reduce quality on some things (medium food, no chlorine in the pools would be a good start), and get rid of graveyard shift for all employees. Max those things back out again later when your resort is doing better. And remember, you will only gain about one star rating per day or two even if you have the snazziest resort imaginable.

That's all for now, happy Simming! ^_^

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