Story progression or neighborhood stories is a very useful, but unpredictable game option in The Sims 3 and The Sims 4. It is a much more powerful version of free will. It helps keep worlds alive and balanced.
The Sims 3
With story progression on, uncontrolled Sims' lives progress normally: Neighbors may move away, new ones will move in, get promotions, get married, have children, make enemies, and even die. In this way, it adds a sense of realism to the game, where Sims' lives progress without the player's input.
It is enabled by default, but players may want to tone it down or disable it as it sometimes causes unwanted and chaotic events. For example, it may cause Sims who are best friends to become rivals, or an adult to become friends with an unrelated baby. It is recommended to only enable full story progression if the player doesn't mind events like these happening.
Story progression behaves in particularly unusual ways if aging is turned off in the game options, as households may fill up with babies that never age.
- Sims grow older with the player's Sims, letting them keep childhood friendships.
- Sims will sometimes have babies through adoption or with another Sim.
- Sims in any inactive/uncontrolled households can be moved out.
- Sims in inactive/uncontrolled households can switch jobs or get fired.
- Uncontrolled Sims do not complete wishes.
- Switching to a new household will lead others to lose their wishes.
- Sims will eventually die and their graves will be accessible via the mausoleum in the graveyard by clicking the option "Manage The Dead".
- Uncontrolled Sims may die due to unnatural causes (such as death by fire).
- Sims will sometimes get married
- Sims may become friends, rivals, enemies, or love interests.
- Sims may go steady.
- Sims may get divorced.
- Sims may change weight.
- Sims may gain skills.
- Sims may gain celebrity status.[TS3:LN] This can be turned off since the Supernatural update.
- Sims may become supernaturals such as vampires,[TS3:LN][TS3:SN] witches, werewolves or fairies.[TS3:SN] This may also be turned off since the Supernatural update.
- Sims may become mermaids.[TS3:IP]
- Households may adopt pets.[TS3:P] This can also be turned off since the Supernatural update.
The Sims 4
Story progression was not included in the initial release of The Sims 4. However, a limited version was added in patch 121, and expanded in patch 125. Referred to as "neighborhood stories", random events will happen to unplayed Sims without the player's input, but they may also ask the player's Sims for advice, which will influence the outcome. There are options available to set whether random events happen to every household, only ones that have not been favorited by the player, or on a household by household basis.
Neighborhood story effects
- Sims may die in accidents.
- Sims may have or adopt children. Family-oriented Sims are more likely to do this, noncommittal Sims are much less likely, and Sims who hate children will never do this.
- Sims may adopt cats or dogs.[TS4:C&D]
- Sims may move into or out of lots.
- Sims may start new careers, retire from them (if they are elders), or quit them.
- Sims may get engaged or married, but only after asking for advice from the player's Sims.
Non-neighborhood story effects
- Sims will age and eventually die of old age depending on the player's chosen game options.
- Sims will gain or lose weight and muscle mass depending on how much they eat and how much exercise they get.
- Sims may gain skills.
- Uncontrolled Sims do not complete whims.