Community Spotlight Interview: addict1220

Longtime player of The Sims games, addict1220- has been the host of the Buildn-n-Share challenges where builders ranging from beginners to experts gather to create lots following the weekly themes. Along with fellow builders, she's hosted these fun, weekly challenges since the launch of The Sims 3! In addition to these challenges, she's also built charming starter homes and created helpful tutorials for beginners and Simoleon pinchers. Check out our latest interview where she talks about how she came up with Build-n-Share, what inspires her to build, as well as tips for beginning builders who want to try her challenges!

Download The Carson

How long have you been playing The Sims games?
I actually started playing The Sims 2 on XBox before finally taking the PC game plunge. I played through the entire storyline and then went back and rebuilt probably every lot in the game. My husband urged me to try the computer version, and once I tried PC, I couldn't believe it. I could have a two-story home? My Sims could have babies and families, could go on to complete a thing called a "Legacy"? And best of all, my house won't catch fire if I use too many decorative objects?! Now that was a builder's dream come true.

What was your first creation in any of The Sims games?
My first PC Sims creation was an all-in-one community build. I remember struggling most of all with the stairs and figuring out how to even out all the land, as my community center had dining, shopping, and a pool. I couldn't believe how cool it was when it was complete and my sim could visit. And I remember watching the number rise as people downloaded. It was so neat to think that people all over the world could be visiting my little center.

What inspired the creation of Build-n-Share? Which challenges have been your favorite?
I immediately fell in love with The Sims, but it was the online community that kept me hooked. I actually changed my screen name a couple of months after buying the game because I became so caught up in the UBERsimmer and SimStart challenges. Hard to believe now that I thought I would NEVER use the forums and just play on my own!
As a member of these challenges, I eventually guest-hosted some challenges that joined the two groups in the spirit of the winter holidays. I loved hosting. Eventually I established my own Yahoo! group and collaborative community: Tired of this Town? The group started with the purpose of creating a "new town for the new year", but we went on to build many more neighborhoods together.
When I came to The Sims 3, I wanted to continue that camaraderie and established the Build-n-Share challenges. I have always said that I want our challenge to be more about community and sharing, and far less about winning. We have winners for most challenges, but I hope our group feels more like a community than a competition.
My favorite challenges have probably been the Gnomelandia neighborhood project (I love all the bright colors and those little round guys!), the more game-like challenges, including Choose your own Adventure and Sim Libs, and I'll probably always have a special place in my heart for Cody Klepto.

How does Build-n-Share come up with these challenges?
After the first summer of challenges, I enlisted Anjubee to help cohost Build-n-Share. I am so proud of my pick! She is a fantastic builder and a positive leader for our group. We take turns and come up with ideas from everywhere and anywhere. I probably do my best thinking in the shower and on my commute home from work. I have also been known to take pen to paper for a Sims brainstorm session while sitting in a doctor or hair salon waiting room! For me, it usually starts with a vague concept like "I want a challenge about building a house for two people with very different styles" (like in the "He's a little bit country, she's a little bit rock-n-roll" challenge) and grows from there. Sometimes the challenges are ideas I've had for my own building but have been a little too overwhelmed to actually create. I'm also inspired by literature and pop culture, two great loves of mine.

Which aspect of creating did you struggle with the most? Which part felt most natural to you?
I have always believed I struggle most with architecture and the home's exterior. I think this is because I usually want to create a house based on a concept (kind of like with my challenges), and I'm so excited to begin, I pretty much create a box! I have been really working hard on this recently and I hope some of my latest builds, along with a few I hope to share soon, show this focus. I think I've always been a bit of an idea person. This is probably why I enjoy challenge writing so much.

Many of your lots are starter homes - what draws you to building them? Do you have a preferred style or theme when building new Lots?
I like starters for a lot of reasons. Everyone has to start somewhere, and nearly every player needs a starter-level (or legacy starter-level) home at some point. Many players don't enjoy building or just want to get to the playing, so I try to create easily playable homes with all the essentials. I also think a starter is a great place for builders to perfect their skills, as you have to really plan size and layout to make sure you have a playable build that doesn't look too barren. Starters are always nice, too, because they are a little more manageable with a tight schedule. I can work on one in the evenings when I come home from work or maybe create one over the course of a weekend. Finally, I have always enjoyed squeezing every penny of a budget. What can I do to buy that all-important roll of toilet paper for the bathroom or to make sure I don't have to cut my plant over the sink? These are the questions I contemplate in bed at night when the Sims music is still humming in my ears. Well, these and what torture I might inflict with the next Build-n-Share starter challenge. As for preferred style, I actually had a "Style Search" story awhile back. I felt a little lost. Some builders have a certain "feel" to their work. I never really thought I had that, unless it was a lot of bright colors or some roofing pulling double-duty as flooring in a simoleon-saving basement. With a little help, I think I've discovered I have a bit of a preference for retro builds, which is evident in The Cassady and The Carson. I've also been wanting to build some more quaint builds lately, maybe something a little romantic or country.

Read the tutorial: Budget Building, Starter Tutorial 1

Can you share a bit of your building process with us including where you get your ideas?
It depends on the day. Sometimes I'm very methodic. Sometimes I just poke around and start building and see what materializes. I usually have a rough idea of how large or costly I want the build to be. For ideas, I have always appreciated challenges. I like specific requirements as it helps me narrow my focus. I can sometimes become a bit lost in options, especially with the seemingly endless decisions we now have with the CAS feature in The Sims 3. I love it, but sometimes I miss the "simpler" times of a couple color schemes per object! Lately, I've been trying to really work on the exterior before moving inside. I've forced myself to slow down on this step to try to increase curb appeal a bit. I used to do it the other way, and I'd find myself displeased with some part of the structure or with no money left to landscape. I also used to save lighting for last, as it was my least favorite, but this too I've tried to change over time. I at least consider adding little tables and nooks for lighting as I go now. This makes things look a little more natural and avoids me being excited to finish the lot and just sticking a hanging light in the center of every room of the house!
As far as ideas, I frequently pick up the free home and apartment magazines on the way out of the grocery store. There are lots of little ideas, and you can't beat the cost! However, this isn't perfect, as there aren't too many mansions, regional or cool historic builds in my city, so I have recently been visiting houseplan sites as well. I don't have a printer at the moment, so I usually create a little sketch before I turn on the game (very basic, and only decipherable to me, I think - another reason I love building on The Sims - I can be creative without necessarily being artistic!). Sometimes I find ideas riding around town or even become inspired by TV, movies, or a book I might be reading at the time.

How would you convince a beginning builder to try one of your challenges?
For the new builder, I would say challenges are a great way to begin. I really think we have a supportive community at Build-n-Share. You can pick up a lot of tips from our entrants of all levels, and the best way to learn is to practice. I also think the challenges are helpful because they can push you beyond your own comfort zone a bit, and that's when we often do the most learning.

Do you have any tips for fellow players who want to start building?
Just jump in! Besides joining a community of builders, I think the best way to learn is to make a lot of mistakes. Even now, to figure out how some of the tools work or if a concept I have is feasible, I just start on an empty lot and try placing things. I often try a tool I haven't used before on a lot that is not terribly important to me so I don't cause any irreparable damage to a creation. And I ALWAYS save right before I try something that could take me down a path I may not want to go! I also frequently save an extra copy to the library. I would also recommend checking out some of the builds on the Exchange. These can really open up your mind to the wide range of possibilities for building in The Sims 3. And read those tutorials! There are some great ones. I really like Allium's landscaping tutorials and Ruthless's colors and palettes tutorial.

Download Legacy Starter 1

What are you looking forward to in TS3's Late Night?
I'm looking forward to expanded community destinations, and as a builder, objects, objects, objects! I see a lot of new items in those screenshots and videos. I'm also intrigued by the idea of the subway. I think it might be fun to build with a more "gritty" look with Late Night.

Do you have any websites that promote your work you'd like to share?
First, I'd like to invite anyone interested in building, or Sims in general, to join us at the official Builders' Boulevard site. Anju and I created this site to allow for more opportunities than our original Yahoo! group, and she has done a wonderful job adding some cool features there since then, including a monthly lot contest.
For anyone who wants some building practice, another of our dedicated members and leaders, Freynas, has put together a great master archives for us with links to all of our past challenges and their respective winners.
Finally, for anyone looking to join the fun, Build-n-Share has a new challenge every two weeks and you can find the announcements on Creative Corner. While we start a new thread each week, you can consistently find a link to the latest challenge here.

Thank you so much, addict1220, for the interview! Don't forget to visit her Studio to download her lots and read her tutorials in her My Page. Also - check out the Builders' Boulevard site, and, of course try your hand at any of the challenges in Build-n-Share!