At FreeSO, we’re always committed to updating the game to match modern expectations for people sim video games. That is the reason we added 3D mode and new lighting, of course, but there are some crucial areas that have been missed when focusing just on engine improvements. One day, I was eating my 3rd McFlurry™ of the day, writing my daily essay about how McDonalds™ has shaped our planet for the better. I was just getting stuck into a scoop with the world renowned McFlurry™ Galaxy™ Caramel Sauce when I was struck with an epiphany. Solutions to modern problems, should come from modern feedback to modern games.

So I started work on FreeSO Battle Royale. That was too much effort, so I instead looked to criticisms of the latest iteration in a similar series, The Sims. I’ve never played The Sims before, so I’m surprised that their series has so much in common with FreeSO, including pools and the Adult life stage. Looking back on complaints that have been made over the past few years about their most recent iteration, it’s clear there as a lot to learn about making a crowd pleasing simulation game.

We couldn’t be bothered making the fancier pools that TS4 has with all the pool rooms, windows etc… so we have found a better way to improve pools and bring some of that modern charm to FreeSO. Introducing – the BALL POOL.

As flat as you need them, the new FreeSO ball pool is just as functional as regular pools in FreeSO, if not more so.

Yes, every pool in every property is now filled with inflatable balls, and the world is better off for it. We’ve been keeping close tabs on the reception ball pools received in modern Sims games, and decided that it was an overwhelming hit with fans and deserved inclusion in our completely original game too. We’ve decided to include two modes for the ball pit pool, which can be triggered by the complex shaders option. Want more 3D balls than you have ever seen in real life? Check that Complex Shaders option. Want the authentic TS4 experience? Turn it off.

Why would we add ball pools without a special class of sim to sit in them? Yes, you read the title right, toddlers are coming to FreeSO. Due to excessive fan requests, we have decided to add toddlers without adding any other life stages whatsoever. This means that we have spent as much time as possible on the toddler life stage, making it a more polished experience. There is also no aging, as that is not the story we want to tell (and with how long you play this game you’d end up dead pretty fast).

“how did you add toddlers so quickly?” I hear you say? “wouldn’t it take hundreds of hours making new models, textures, and creating new animations for the new skeleton?”. Simply load the game, to find out.

We’re also giving out a free, never before seen object, TODAY ONLY! To go with our update focusing on pools, what better object to roll with than a Pool Filter.
Pool filters are used around the world to keep your pool water from becoming dirty. What? Pools don’t have any water now that they’re filled with balls? I hope nothing bad happens when you try to pump plastic balls through a pool filter…

Log in today to receive your new Pool Filter!

That’s all for today, folks. I hope you enjoy your day. April 1st is truly the real start of spring, as things do really start to heat up around this time of year.

Rhys.

Hey everyone! A few days ago, I pushed out the first major feature update in 5 months. We’ve worked out most of the issues introduced by the first build, so it’s about time I made a blog post about it.

The new update has loads of general improvements, such as an all new MSDF font renderer that is beautiful at any size, new roof rendering, new smoother routing, new contact hardened shadows, simulation optimisations and many other improvements. However, the one that is most worth talking about is our new Neighborhoods feature, which has been teased on this blog all throughout the last few months.

If you want a full changelog, check out the list posted on http://tsomania.net. The rest of this post will focus on neighborhoods, though I might post about new things like the font rendering and SimAntics JIT/AOT at some other time.

Neighborhoods

As explained on the previous post: http://freeso.org/help-us-name-sunrise-craters-neighbourhoods/ , neighborhoods in FreeSO are very different from those in TSO. The neighborhood you are part of is directly linked to the position of your property – which means your neighbors are in your… you get the picture. This means that when placing a lot, you can’t just completely ignore the location! To get the most out of the neighborhoods features, you can choose to live next to your friends or a community you want to be part of. Perhaps you might also choose to live somewhere just to start a campaign and take over next month?

The neighborhood page

Each neighborhood has a unique name and description, taken or inspired by suggestions from the community made over the last through months. They are centered around specific landmarks on the city, giving each neighborhood its own distinctive feature that lets you spot it from city view rather easily.

The top neighborhoods in the city have election cycles, where a Mayor is elected to create and manage that neighborhood’s Town Hall for a term lasting a month. Each neighborhood has its own page which details all of that, including the top 10 properties (overall, per category) and sims (activity) over the last few days. Each neighborhood also has a Bulletin Board, which lets residents post public messages about anything they wish, and contains updates on neighborhood activities like elections and achievements. If you live in a neighborhood with a mayor, you can even submit anonymous ratings for them, which are shown on the page and any future elections that sim participates in.

Bulletin Boards

Rather empty, but for how long?

Need to pull your neighbors together for an event? Want to know what’s going on in a neighborhood? Bulletin boards are new public forums that each neighborhood has for helping residents organize events, start discussions or look for assistance. There are three sections in each bulletin board – Mayor, System and Community.

  • Mayor posts are messages written or promoted by the elected Mayor of this neighborhood, and will appear larger than most other posts.
  • System posts are made automatically as various events occur in the neighborhood, such as elections or notable individual achievements. Achievements are currently not listed, but will be in the future. (eg. residents reaching the top level of a career, etc.)
  • Community posts can be made by anyone, and can be about anything! If you live in this neighborhood, you can freely post in the community section, and even link a lot to your post! If the Mayor appreciates your post, they can promote it to the Mayor section for the most visibility.

You can get to the bulletin board using the button on the left of each neighborhood page, and also from the bulletin board object present on that neighborhood’s Town Hall property.

Note that neighborhood features and the bulletin board have their own set of rules, specifically forbidding harassment, election bribery and spamming. For more information see http://freeso.org/nhoodrules/ .

Mayors

By far the most interesting and complex feature that neighborhoods have added – Mayors are sims that have been elected to be in charge of a particular Neighborhood in the city.

Elections happen on the last week of every month – Nominations open on Monday, Elections then happen on Friday, and the final tally is performed on Sunday night. During the nomination phase, members of an eligible neighborhood can nominate any other member of their neighborhood as a candidate for becoming a mayor. When a sim receives three nominations, they will be asked if they want to run for mayor, and to provide a campaign message if they do. The 5 candidates who receive the most nominations will be chosen for the final election, where voters must choose their mayor from just the selected candidates.

When a mayor is elected, they gain a few powers (these are by no means final, but they are what is available right now):

  • They appear in the neighborhood page’s Mayor tab, and can have their performance rated by residents of the neighborhood.
  • They gain control of the neighborhood’s Town Hall – from this same mayor tab mayors can create or move the town hall property within the neighborhood. They can also build/buy on it and enlist donators – see below for more information.
  • They gain control of the Mayor section of the bulletin board. This means posts with more visibility, less chance of getting pushed off the board by newer posts, and the ability to promote regular community posts to appear in this section too.
  • A top hat icon will appear on their person thumbnail when they are on a lot in their neighborhood. Your presence will be felt throughout the property.

    Elections mean making tough decisions, but each candidate is allowed to state their case on the ballot.

As there are 34 neighborhoods, you can imagine that 34 simultaneous elections might become quite confusing for players to keep track of. Because of this, only the neighborhoods with top activity levels can have a Mayor elected. Because we are still testing these new features, only the top two neighborhoods will have elections this month, but following election cycles will see more neighborhoods become eligible.

There is no term limit, and each month there will be another election to enter. The only thing keeping you in office is your die-hard fans!

Town Halls

There weren’t any spaces in D.A.M.N. so this is the best screenshot you’re getting.

They don’t HAVE to be a town hall – the name simply implies that the location is that neighborhood’s designated public gathering spot, and that it is always open to everyone. Town halls, parks, law enforcement buildings or even prisons – lots of this type are the center of the neighborhood, and reflect the most eccentric nature of its inhabitants. This special lot type can be opened by anyone, and has a max sim limit of 128, and be built on by a maximum of 100 whitelisted donator sims. They are ideal for get-togethers like competitions, weddings and other celebrations! There are also exclusive objects you can only find on community lots, mainly to do with voting and the bulletin board. However, lots with this type cannot be given a lot category, so it’s not much good at money or skills!

Each neighborhood has one community lot owned by its Mayor, who has been nominated and elected by its residents. The mayor has complete control over the property, though they can enlist help via object ‘donations’ from whitelisted sims.

Donators list, complete with censor to protect the identities of those who died testing this feature and the bug that was present in the screenshot.

In a town hall, there are two ways you can place objects:

‘Normal’ placement behaves similarly to placing objects on player owned properties – you can freely move objects between the property and your inventory, and the objects will return when you move out.

‘Donate’ placement has a much higher object limit, but these objects can NEVER RETURN TO YOU and cannot be refunded. When you donate an object to a community lot, it is destined to become a long term fixture that belongs to the neighborhood as a whole, and may persist as the lot changes hands between different mayors. A reminder will appear each time you open your inventory, just in case you have plans to put any rare objects down.

There’s a huge benefit though – when you buy objects out of the catalog to be donated, they cost 1/3rd of the price! This makes it a lot easier to get started or do renovations worrying less about your contributions disappearing in future.

When you donate an object, you cannot sell it or return it to inventory. At least everyone will know you put it there!

Conclusion

Phew – that’s all for now! Updates on the first elections, the other new features and future updates will likely come in another blog post, so stay tuned!

Rhys

With the new year already having flown by, we are rapidly approaching the second anniversary of FreeSO’s launch! And with that, the Annual FreeSO Awards (AFA) ceremony is making its second debut (it is annual after all). So for anyone who missed out on lasts years event, you are definitely in for a treat!

The AFA lets you nominate your fellow sims in a variety of categories, and the most voted for sim wins their very own trophy to display on their lot. This year has some new categories, but there are still a total of 31 awards up for grabs. An example of some of the sim categories are Most Iconic Sim, The World Is Your Toilet and Best Roomie Award!

You can place your votes by logging in with your FreeSO account here – https://awards.freeso.org/ – you may only vote for each category once per account and per real life household (so if your family members also play, perhaps discuss your nomination choices as a team)

The ceremony will be taking place on the 10th of February at 20:00 UTC at the Sunrise Crater Town Hall. The lot will fit 128 players, so if you want a seat, the early bird gets the worm! The event will also be streamed for those who are unable to squeeze into the lot.

In other news..

A new role has been added to the FreeSO Staff Team! This role, which is known as C.O.U.S.I.N, stands for Community Outreach, Upkeep, & Sim Integration Network. These players help out the team by taking the lead with larger events such as the recent Halloween and Christmas events, and are now preparing for the AFA.

The Neighbourhood name/description submissions have now been closed. Thank you so much for participating and fingers crossed you will see some of your creativite works added to the game very soon!

Lastly, it looks like the weather forecast is predicting the temperature will finally begin rising above freezing, so make the most of the snow whilst you can.

We have plenty planned over the next few months and we look forward to sharing it all with you.

Merry Christmas everyone! You’ve noticed the snowstorms, but you probably haven’t noticed the Christmas Tree in your inventory! Place it on your lot to celebrate!

Each day you’ll be able to open a present from the tree – since it isn’t close to christmas yet you’ll be getting a variant of a “common” present, but in the 6 days leading up to christmas you’ll get some rare objects you can’t get anywhere else!

“But my tree only starts with 2 presents!” you say. Well, rumor has it that your tree has a designated delivery man who comes every night, really likes cookies and doesn’t like to be seen by other sims, because he’s ashamed of his facial hair or something. Your tree can hold up to 4 presents, though even if it’s full he’s likely to show up for the cookies anyways. You can find cookies in the “miscellaneous” section of the catalog.

I’d recommend setting out some cookies next to a fireplace (preferably off… but that won’t stop him) and letting him do his job in peace. Christmas is effort enough without all these early deliveries to worry about!

However, that’s not all we’ve got in store… we have new catalog items and a crafting event powered by CC created by the community!

Crafting Event

On Tuesday morning, the Mountaintop DADDI & MOMI Hospital System (MDMHS) issued a public health alert:

For reasons unknown, an epidemic of “the giggles” has been aggressively moving through the communities of Santa’s elves, rendering them all but paralyzed with laughter in a time when they are accustomed to keeping those tiny little noses to the grindstones for the final 11th hour push to finish their gifts before Christmas day. MDMHS is working around the clock to monitor the symptoms and attempt to provide remedy to the unknown ailment as soon as possible. These include holding one’s breath, thinking about something sad, drinking a giant glass of water, and so forth. We will provide further information as we progress toward a cure—or at least any success toward curbing the symptoms.

In a rare public statement, Governor Burglar Cop has responded to the halt of Christmas gift creation, and issued a plea to the citizens of Sunrise Crater: “We need every able citizen and nimble pair of hands to get themselves down to the Winter Workshop of Wonders to help with the work stoppage. We must finish the work in time for Santa to deliver the gifts to every household in Sunrise Crater. Drop in regularly to receive the new shipments of materials and build, build, build! I will not go down in history as the first governor of Sunrise Crater to have failed Santa Claus!!”

When asked about the growing pressure he’s received as of late to break each neighborhood into its own governing body, led by locally elected mayors, Governor Cop responded with “tf” and left the press conference.

Credits

This year’s holiday event would not have been possible without the fabulous work of:

  • @Andrew (AOG / Sir Andrew) (3D and 2D art)
  • @S.Q.U.A.S.H. Miha (3D and 2D art)
  • @˙ʎɹɔ oʇ ʇɟǝl sɹɐǝʇ ou (3D and 2D art)
  • @B.A.B.I. BrandonSJ ((3D and 2D art)
  • @jwofles (3D and 2D art)
  • @D.A.D.D.I. S1ndle (3D and 2D art, Putting it all together)
  • @M.O.M.I. Raeven (Putting it all together, Event planning)
  • @D.U.C.K.I. Fawn (Catalog strings, Lot design, Lot description/name, Event planning)
  • @D.A.D.D.I. dotequals (Lot design, testing, Event planning)
  • @rip in peri peri:santa::cloud_snow: )

I’m excited to announce that after months of development, we are finally ready to reveal our next core feature, Neighbourhoods! ..but not like you might have expected! There is still a little while before we can release the feature fully, but we are revealing it early because we need your input!

Neighbourhoods in the original TSO were very simple – any property could subscribe to any neighbourhood regardless of location, and they didn’t have any gameplay effect. While this allowed a lot of freedom, you often had neighbours whose lots were all in different neighbourhoods. There wasn’t even a way to list all houses in a neighbourhood – they were simply an afterthought to add a slither of community interaction to the original’s rather uninteresting city view.

I’ve built a system entirely from the ground up that aims to bring living, active neighbourhoods to FreeSO, while adding new community elements, a lot more interactivity, and new competitive goals for sims to strive for.

Our new Neighbourhood Page is just the start – a great many elements and gameplay features will be added with the neighbourhoods update.

FreeSO’s neighbourhoods are fixed regions in city view that have a name and description that lets people know what that neighbourhood is all about. They’re centered on key features of the city’s landscape, giving each neighbourhood a unique identity. Interaction with neighbourhoods starts when you’re choosing the location for your lot – move next to your friends, in a community that you like, or just because you like the view. Neighbourhoods show up in far zoom when you hover them – clicking zooms in on them and opens their page, which highlights the top 10 properties and sims in that area among other things.

In popular neighbourhoods, resident Sims can compete in monthly elections to become its Mayor! Currently, Mayors are rewarded with three special powers that normal sims only dream of. Mayors have control over an additional lot over their normal residence – they can place and build the Town Hall lot for that neighbourhood without having to move out of their existing property! The Mayor’s ability to add objects and architecture to the Town Hall can also be shared with Sims they trust, by adding up to 100 “donators”. They also get priority on that neighbourhood’s bulletin board, and a special badge whenever they visit a lot in that neighbourhood. More details on these features will come on release!

Name our Neighbourhoods!

We’re posting this now because we need your help – we need names and descriptions for the neighborhoods in Sunrise Crater! This will be a lot less formal than the object descriptions – there will be no voting, we will be taking the best suggestions, and encourage you to work together with the people who live in that region (or want to) to pick the best.

For more information, see this section on the forums:
http://forum.freeso.org/forums/neighbourhood-suggestions.41/

You can either post in the main stickied thread for small suggestions, or post your own thread for larger ones or co-ordinated efforts. These suggestions will define the state of Sunrise Crater for many years to come, so please give it a shot!

The feature is still under heavy development, and since it has a large number of new systems it requires a lot of indepth private testing before we can introduce it on the public servers. You might not even see it this month, since its progress relies entirely on when I can work on it. But I guarantee it will be worth the wait!

Note that because of our rather low playerbase and the scale of this feature, only the two most popular neighbourhoods will have elections and a Town Hall on the first month. This feature is designed for a large number of players in each city – I’m hoping we will see its full potential when we finally launch. If you want to be the first mayor of a Neighbourhood, consider moving where the most activity is!

I hope you guys are as excited as I am about this feature – I’ll keep developing it over the weeks to come! In the mean time, get to suggesting!

It works! Mostly.

– Rhys