It’s been a while since Shacknews last checked in with the team at Maxis about The Sims 4. A lot has changed since we all went to college with Discover University. The Sims have since become aware of their environment and the importance of keeping it livable. That’s the idea behind the recently-released expansion, Eco Lifestyle.
With a few weeks having passed since Eco Lifestyle released, Shacknews wanted to reach out to the team at Maxis to see if they had any words about this latest expansion. We found Producer Jill Johnson, who was happy to speak to us about Eco Lifestyle, maintaining Evergreen Harbor, the expansion’s new career options, and the importance of taking care of your environment.
Jill Johnson, Producer: Following Discover University, we wanted something fresh and different. Choosing a theme for an expansion pack generally involves a combination of team input, brainstorms, community feedback (community comments, Game Changers and surveys) and research. What surfaced from that process is a global interest in experimenting with how actions impact our local environment for better or for worse. We wanted our players to tell their story of how they want their Sims to live and be able to impact their community in a tangible way. Our team really poured their own experiences and ideas into this, so we hope that thoughtfulness and dedication resonate with players throughout the game.
Shacknews: What can you tell me about Evergreen Harbor and what went behind the decision to set this expansion in an entirely new setting?
Johnson: We aim to explore a unique new setting for every world we release and we had yet to explore this space between the suburbs and metropolitan before. Eco Lifestyle leans into the mentality of resourcefulness with materials and environmental consciousness, so the Pacific Northwest felt like a great fit. Cities such as Portland and Seattle are full of artistic landmarks and street art, and we wanted to leverage that kind of vibe for the Modern Development Neighborhood Action Plans to showcase a community coming together and decorating their neighborhood with unique upcycled art as their environment improves. We also loved the tech aspect of cities such as Vancouver, so we got some inspiration from there, too.
Shacknews: I like the idea that Evergreen Harbor can be as much of a clean utopia or a filthy dump as you see fit. What are some factors that influence how clean or dirty the town gets?
Johnson: All three neighborhoods in Evergreen Harbor start off with what we lovingly refer to as the “trash layer,” so if you want rats in your game, you can just sit back and watch. The starting state is devoid of any of the extra civic bells and whistles that come with either the Green Initiatives or Modern Development Neighborhood Action Plans. Each neighborhood of Evergreen Harbor starts in one of the three Eco Footprint states: Green, Industrial or Neutral. So while Port Promise is dingy and smoggy, Grims Quarry has lovely sun rays and butterflies and Conifer Station is Neutral.
The most direct way to influence the state of your neighborhood in Evergreen Harbor is by encouraging your neighbors to vote for Neighborhood Action Plans. The Green Initiatives and Modern Development plans will both clean up the “trash layer” and, over the course of the week, make some dramatic changes to the buildings, streets and foliage in your area. Even though changing the neighborhood’s visuals of buildings, roads,and landmarks are specific to Evergreen Harbor, you can still impact the Eco Footprint of any residential neighborhood in any world. If you want the Eco Footprint to be greener, add eco-friendly objects like solar panels, wind turbines and dew collectors throughout the neighborhood. Keep an eye on what wall and floor materials you use as well. There are a number of materials that contribute to a greener Eco Footprint. There are also plenty of smaller ways to make a green impact, such as gardening or upgrading household appliances to be eco-friendly. Every little bit counts!
Moving your neighborhood’s Eco Footprint toward the Industrial end of the spectrum may take some community teamwork. The more households that use smoke-producing objects like fireplaces and spaceships, the more impact there will be on an Industrial Eco Footprint. Other objects that contribute to an Industrial Eco Footprint are power generators and water generators. You could also hire an Eco Inspector and encourage them to pollute the area. Similar to how some wall and floor patterns can contribute to a Green Footprint, there are also wall and floor materials that can contribute to making the area more Industrial.
Shacknews: Eco Lifestyle seems to center more around the idea of community. So what are some examples of the ways in which players can interact with their neighbors for this expansion?
Johnson: Neighborhood Action Plans rely not just on your Sims, but on the community as a whole. The votes your neighbors place can differ from what you want, so if you really care, advocate for your cause! Many N.A.P.s focus on adopting more eco-conscious habits and others can change the way your neighbors interact on a daily basis. For instance, while the Free Love N.A.P. inspires everyone to engage in some serious PDA, Action Plans like Roughhousing Encouraged and Sharing is Caring may have you second guessing your (or your neighbor’s) choices.
Eco Lifestyle also has Community Spaces. Similar to the overall world, these spaces start out run-down and they don’t provide much benefit for the neighborhood at first. It’s up to you and your neighbors to choose whether you want to turn your Community Space into a bustling Maker Space, a soothing Community Garden or a Market Space where neighbors can buy and sell their goods.
Eco Lifestyle brings with it a stronger sense of community. No matter where your Sims live, neighbors might stop by to help you take out the trash, fix your broken appliances, or even barge in to yell at you! You might get phone calls from neighbors trying to convince you to vote for their preferred Neighborhood Action Plan, friends calling you up to tell you about last night’s dream, and even the occasional prank caller.
Shacknews: Can you describe the new career options that are introduced?
Johnson: We’ve introduced two new careers in Eco Lifestyle: the Freelance Crafter and the Civil Designer Work From Home path. The Freelance Crafter career provides prime opportunities to use all the new recycling and crafting objects, including the Recycler, the Fabricator and even the Dumpster! Work on your own time by fulfilling client requests for various handmade upcycled items, including homemade candles, fizzy beverages and fabricated furniture. Each gig has a silly little backstory for the predicaments that led the client to need your service and your goal is to deliver a quality handcrafted item that fits their request. Completing all the gigs unlocks some cool new CAS assets and an increase in gig pay the next time around.
The Civil Designer career is a work-from-home career for those who really want to contribute to their community and have stronger influence with Neighborhood Action Plans. As a Civil Designer, you can draft design proposals to unlock the ability to craft unique items on the Fabricator, including the Smog Vacuum and the Hydroponic Planter that doesn’t need to be watered. Civil Designers can branch into one of two specialties: Green Technician and Civic Planner. The Technician is a mix of technology and management, enabling you to unlock new upgrades like the Vertical Garden’s Cruelty Free Meat option and earn a reward trait that helps speed up Eco Upgrades on appliances. The Civic Planner branch emphasizes community engagement, giving you the ability to rally neighbors around worthy Neighborhood Action Plans and earn a Champion of the People reward trait.
Shacknews: What are examples of items that you can create out of reclaimed materials?
Johnson: The Fabricator has a whole suite of unique furniture that you can make as you recycle unwanted items, collect Bits and Pieces, purchase dyes and level up your fabrication skill. This furniture has a stylish handcrafted vibe and the pieces all work nicely together. There are also some Civil Designer career rewards that allow you to even make certain foods with the Fabricator. The Candle Making Station is a great way to make beautiful, functional works of upcycled art from Bits and Pieces and wax. And if you count herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables as “reclaimed” materials, you can concoct a slew of new beverages on the Juice Fizzing Station.
Shacknews: Lastly, I know The Sims is a lot of fun and there’s a lot of wackiness when playing this game. But I’m curious, was one of the goals of Eco Lifestyle to encourage the player base to be more environmentally-conscious?
Johnson: Mostly we’re aiming to offer players a whole new way of playing where both small actions and large actions can impact their environment and community. It’s up to them whether they pursue an Industrial existence or a Green future. Eco Lifestyle is here to offer the opportunity to play with some eco-friendly trends such as using solar panels, farming alternative protein sources and home brewing. Playing this pack may give some players inspiration and a sense of accomplishment knowing that their Sims’ actions can make a tangible difference. If that happens to make people more mindful of the impact of our actions in real life and our capacity to create positive change, we all win!
The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle expansion is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can’t enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?
If you played Flash-based games in the 2000s, you probably remember Kongregate, a website that hosted over 100,000 browser games. Developers of any experience level could upload their creations, and users could find a host of oddball options that you weren’t likely to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, the site will soon take a step towards being more of an archive than an active part of the internet, as Kongregate has announced that it’ll stop accepting new game uploads “around” July 22nd. The company does say that all of its 128,000 games will still be playable, and developers will be able to keep updating them, as well.
Additionally, Forbes confirmed that the site is also laying off an unknown number of employees after a number of employees tweeted that they only found out by a direct deposit to their bank accounts. Kongregate said in a statement to Forbes that the way they found out was entirely unintentional.
Kongregate is also shutting down a number of its social features. Chatroooms, both general ones and ones associated with specific games, are being closed, and most of its discussion forms are also being removed or moved to read-only state. Kongregate didn’t say why it’s making these changes, but decreased usage seems like the easiest answer.
All this comes as Adobe is getting ready to finally end support and development on Flash, though the once-prominent plug-in has been all but dead for a few years now. Kongregate has supported HTML5 games for a few years now, but it’s not entirely clear how the remaining Flash games on the site will be transitioned so they remain playable. But Kongregate still has some time, as Flash isn’t set to be killed until the very end of 2020.
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Much like the last few Community Days, July’s event will run for six hours instead of the traditional three, from 11 AM to 5 PM local time. As previously revealed, this month’s featured Pokemon will be Gastly. Throughout the Community Day, the Ghost Pokemon will appear in the wild much more frequently than usual, and you’ll have a chance to catch a Shiny Gastly.
Niantic also reiterated that this month’s Community Day move will be Shadow Punch. If you can evolve Haunter–Gastly’s evolved form–into Gengar by 7 PM local time (two hours after the Community Day ends), it’ll automatically know Shadow Punch, which it normally cannot learn in Pokemon Go.
On top of that, a few bonuses will be available throughout July’s Community Day. First, eggs will hatch at a quarter of their normal distance. Any Incense that you use will also remain active for three hours instead of the usual 30 minutes, and a special Community Day box containing 30 Ultra Balls, an Elite Fast TM, two Incense, and two Super Incubators will be available to purchase from the in-game shop.
Finally, Niantic will offer a Community Day-exclusive Special Research questline called The Great Gastly during the event. The questline will require a ticket; those will go on sale in Pokemon Go’s in-game shop ahead of the Community Day and cost $1 USD. You can read more details on the game’s official website.
In the meantime, the first set of weekly Pokemon Go Fest challenges goes live this week. If enough players on each team complete the challenges, Niantic will unlock additional Pokemon during Go Fest weekend. The Legendary Kyurem is also making its debut in Pokemon Go this month, and there’s a new batch of Field Research tasks to complete.
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For Americans, Fourth of July weekend is nearly upon us, and while this holiday certainly won’t look like years past–everyone should still be social distancing, after all–we can still enjoy the barrage of online deals that are cropping up from retailers. From GameStop to Best Buy, July 4th sales are now in full swing, offering some remarkably good prices on gaming, tech, and more.
Quick look: The best Fourth of July deals
6479216 – Fourth of July Sales 2020 – Best Deals
If you’ve been on the hunt of a new gaming laptop, 4K TV, or gaming mouse, this is a great weekend to pick one up, as we’re seeing discounts on some of the top options from brands like Razer, Samsung, Apple, and Lenovo.
We’ve rounded up some of the best July 4th deals available now below. July 4th is this Saturday, so most of the deals are ending on Sunday or Monday. That means you’ll want to check out everything on offer and grab what you want before the weekend is over; fortunately, we’ve made it easier on you by curating some of the best Fourth of July deals floating around online.
Best game deals
Discounts on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC games this weekend
DualShock 4 and Xbox One pre-owned controllers are going for $40 each today, although they were $30 yesterday in an early-access deal for PowerUp Rewards Pro members. That said, $40 is still a solid price, especially if you just need an extra controller for multiplayer or as a backup. The sale includes a wide range of colors for either controller, so it’s a good opportunity to snag a color you’ve been wanting.
Get 20% off Marvel, Star Wars, and My Hero Academia collectibles
One of the best gaming laptops we’ve used, the Lenovo Y740, is getting a nice discount in this weekend’s Fourth of July sale. While not as flashy as other gaming laptops on the market, the Lenovo Legion Y740 is an excellent gaming laptop that works well for business users, with large keycaps that curve nicely to fit your fingers. It comes with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 1920 x 1080 Full HD display, 16GB of RAM, and Nvidia Geforce GTX RTX 2070 graphics card.
$220 (down from $300)
If you’ve been looking at budget gaming monitors, this 27-inch Acer XF FreeSync monitor is a great option for getting into PC gaming and getting work done at home. It features a 1080p resolution, 144 Hz refresh rate, and 1 ms response time along with four USB 3.0 ports for connecting devices.
$180 (down from $280)
If you’re looking to pay a little less and stay under the $200 range, this 24.5-inch HP display will get the job done nicely. It also features a 1080p resolution, 144 Hz refresh rate, and 100mm range of motion so you adjust the screen to your comfort level. If you’re OK with a smaller screen size, this HP monitor will suit your needs just fine.
$2,800 (down from $3,500)
The 2019 15.4-inch MacBook Pro is available for a great price as part of Best Buy’s Fourth of July sale, selling for $2,800 instead of its $3,500 list price. Great for business users, students, and more, this particular MacBook Pro features 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processors with Radeon Pro 560X graphics and an ultra-fast SSD. It also maintains up to 10 hours of battery life for long sessions of use and four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.
$600 (down from $900)
Best Buy’s Fourth of July sale features a fantastic discount on this 65-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV, which is a full $300 off its normal $900 price. The TV has a 2160p resolution and is HDR-compatible; it also includes all the major streaming services and has four HDMI inputs so you can hook up your consoles and more.
$300 (was $400)
One of our favorite Arcade1Up cabinets is a full $100 off this Fourth of July weekend, selling for $300 for the next couple of days. We wouldn’t wait too long, however, as the last time we saw this cabinet at this price, it sold out before the sale was over. The Golden Tee arcade cabinet features four classic Golden Tee titles, a light-up marquee, and a 12-inch riser to elevate the 17-inch LCD screen. The new Pac-Man Special Edition arcade cabinet, which just released this month, is also $50 off.
$30 (down from $80)
Logitech’s G502 Hero wired gaming mouse is always a popular option for PC gamers, which is clear from its five-star rating and over 1,600 reviews at Best Buy alone. Plus, you can’t beat its current price of $30; the G502 is normally priced at $80. It delivers precision tracking up to 16,000 DPI, 11 programmable buttons, and five different weights so you can personalize the mouse’s weight to your liking.
$50 (down from $80)
If you’re in need of a new gaming mouse, one of our favorite options is $30 off right now. The Razer Viper wired ambidextrous gaming mouse with Chroma RGB lighting is on sale for $50 for July 4th, down from its usual $80. Featuring a 16,000 DPI optical sensor for precise aiming and movements, the Razer Viper is lightweight, comfortable, and one of the best gaming mice you can buy. It’s on sale at Amazon now through July 4.
$70 (was $80)
Released earlier this year, the upgraded Razer Basilisk V2 wired gaming mouse features 11 programmable buttons, customizable scroll wheel resistance, and a 20,000 DPI optical sensor ensuring accuracy and precision. Like the Razer Viper, the Razer Basilisk V2 is lightweight, and it features a comfortable, ergonomic design to fit your hand perfectly. It’s discounted for the first time since its release this weekend at Best Buy.
$85 (was $130)
Razer’s Fourth of July deals include a 35% off markdown on its Thresher headset for PS4, which will also work with PC and Xbox One. While the Thresher isn’t the best gaming headset on the market, it’s a great budget choice that’s even more worth it for just 85 bucks (normally $130). You have the option to use it wired or wirelessly, and it has lightweight memory foam ear cushions for comfort.
$85 (down from $130) with promo code “july4thewin”
Already on sale for $100 (normally $130), the Whirlwind FX Element gaming keyboard is available for even cheaper with promo code july4thewin from now until July 6. The additional discount drops your price to just $85, and free shipping is included. The Element keyboard is great if you care about your gaming setup’s aesthetic, as it’s notable for its dynamic RPG lighting and effects. The keyboard is content-reactive, meaning the RGB lighting and effects will reflect what’s happening in the game, which is intended to increase immersion. Whirlwind has a video on its site demonstrating this in action.
$169 (was $200)
Amazon’s current deal on the Apple Watch Series 3 matches the best price ever for this model, according to CNET. The 38 mm version in Space Gray features a GPS, Retina display, swim-proof protection, an optical heart sensor, the ability to store music and podcasts, and more. It’s a great option for current Apple users.
Save up to 50% on the best party game bundles around
All six Jackbox Party Packs along with their standalone titles are seeing major discounts during Fourth of July weekend on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Amazon Fire TVs. From Quiplash and Trivia Murder Party to Tee K.O and Fibbage, these popular party games are super accessible to people who aren’t used to playing video games, as you can join in on practically any device including your phone. And while they were made for couch multiplayer, Jackbox Games has a handy guide for playing them online with friends and family remotely by using Zoom or Google Hangouts (or Remote Play Together if you buy on Steam).
Amazon Prime cardholders get 15% back until July 5
Amazon Prime cardholders can take advantage of a special offer that gives them 15% cashback on Nintendo Switch Eshop gift cards from now until July 5. Amazon Prime cards also give you 5% cashback on every Amazon purchase and has no annual fee, so it’s absolutely worth having if you shop on Amazon a lot. It ranks on our sister site CNET’s list of the best cash-back credit cards in 2020, so check that out for more info.
$60 (down from $120)
Let’s be real: The pandemic has forced a lot of us to start cooking at home more, and if you find cooking arduous, a multi-function pressure cooker is a real game-changer. This little machine includes a slow cooker, which lets you easily cook practically anything over several hours in a very hands-off fashion, great for prepping in the morning and enjoying for dinner. You can also cook rice in it, sauté vegetables, steam fish and veggies, and keep food warm in it. And with its 8-quart capacity, there’s enough for the whole family or ample leftovers.
$138.20 (was $238) with promo code “PLUS20”
Most of us have been spending a lot more time at home these days, and that might have you thinking a lot more about how to keep your home and family safe. The Google Nest outdoor security camera plugs directly into a power source so you don’t have to worry about batteries, and using an app on your phone, you can see everything going on outside your home in 1080p HD. You can currently get the security camera and two wifi smart plugs for $138.20 when you use promo code PLUS20 at checkout as part of Ebay’s July 4th sale. The deal ends July 6.