Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Welcome to Kitty's Corner

Hey to one and all, and welcome back. I was wondering when I'd drag my butt back here and get another post up. It's been a little tricky lately because I'm getting ready to switch positions at work, which has meant a lot of changes in schedule and a lot of packing. A LOT of packing. I had like five large boxes of stuff come out of my cubicle, which is more stuff than I think I actually own at home. How sad is that? Pretty sad, but most of the stuff here at work is garbage anyway, I just can't bring myself to throw it away (it's stuff that teeters on the border of being garbage but not quite stuff you want to pitch. Man, I hate that sort of stuff).

I don't know how much I've discussed it here before, but I'm a huge Star Wars fan (by huge, I don't mean in the physical sense, and by fan, I mean geek). This past weekend, I finally broke down and bought a Master Replica Force FX lightsaber. I know this may not mean anything to non-fans, but I'm pretty jazzed about it. In a nutshell, it's about as close to being a replica of Luke Skywalker's saber from the original film, and if you never thought it was possible for an adult to spend hours posing in front of a mirror and swinging around a toy saber, think again. It cleaned me out, so I'm about to wind up living in a cardboard box, but it's okay, because I saw a segment on Oprah last week about how to find your food and furniture needs in your local dumpsters (gross).

Okay, anyway, on with the sims. I confess I passed up the opportunity to buy the Freetime EP in favor of buying the lightsaber replica, and it was a tough decision, but Star Wars is my first hobby, and I knew for a fact I loved lightsabers. I'd heard good things about the new EP, but wasn't willing to give up buying the saber in case it actually sucks. Now, I think a part of me was putting off this post because I just didn't know what to say, but let's see how it goes. As we join the Marty/Kitty/J.D./Julie Wilson family, they are nowhere to be seen at the moment, but we'll snoop around their house anyway. Last time we visited, there was no upstairs to the house, but now there is. The downstairs was a little short on space for recreational activities, so it seemed the only logical solution to the problem.

Nothing fancy, just your average, ordinary upstairs computer and karaoke bar.

The problem with adding the "pimped out" upstairs to the house was that everyone was instantly attracted to the bar, as is the case with every sim home that features a bar. And if the bar hadn't been there, it would be the poker tables they were drawn to. The solution to this problem was simple, though, since all the temptations were isolated upstairs, the door to the upper floor was simply locked so nobody could get in until the proper time. I know, this sounds a little weird since all of the Wilsons who work just own their own businesses and basically all the time they don't choose to visit those businesses is leisure time. There are more important things than having fun, though, like skill building. Well, not to me in real life, but hey, I have to have priorities for my sims. Given the ample unused property behind the house, the family decided to invest in a nice, modest pool.

Now with triple the ladders for extra protection against those pesky deaths by drowning...

I don't have any really good pictures of it, but all in all, the Wilson house had become more like the Wilson estate than just a house (I'm not sure what the exact definition of an estate is, but it sounds fancier than house does). The down side to that, as with any house in my neighborhood, is that once I feel the property has expanded to it's full potential and there's not much left to buy, that's one less thing to focus on to fight boredom while playing a lot (and we don't want the older Wilsons to fall into the same rut the younger ones were falling into in our last post). On the up side, a property with a lot of stuff built on it usually means the sims living there are never bored, and that was the case here finally. While the upstairs bar and poker room was originally intended to be used just for parties, I did eventually open it up a bit more regularly so the sims could get to the computers they were so desperately wanting to use.

Marty: "I'm just not so sure this qualifies as togetherness time…"

I have no objections to sims having nice houses with lots of stuff to do, but I always try to be careful not to make them TOO nice, or I run the risk of having no reason to send the sims out to community lots ever. Let's face it - load times suck and some of the pre-made community lots aren't worth two picks and a flick (just made that saying up), but at the heart of Sims 2 is the social interaction, and if your sim's house is so great that they have everything they need and then some, the temptation to stay home and miss out on contact with other sims is very strong. Let's face it - that's where the REAL fun is at. Nobody wants to watch their sims play around with gadgets at home all day long (well, nobody I know does), even cool ones like the karaoke machine.

Kitty: "I feel like I'm singing in the fiery depths of hell!"

Well, Marty has his club, and J.D. has his car lot, and Kitty was starting to feel a little left out. She's never really been the type to be content to sit around on the sidelines (heck, back in the olden days, she was the only family member who really did much of anything), and while it was all good and fine for her to help with the other businesses when needed, there just wasn't a whole lot to do, and she really wanted to be the one in charge. And so, she sat down and tried to figure out what sort of service was still needed in the area. Obviously, cars and dancing were already covered, as were tiki coffee and casual dining. However, a really nice restaurant had yet to be created, and Kitty decided it was up to her to fill that need.

Ladies and gents, welcome to "Kitty's Korner"...

What is it about misspelling place names that should start with a "c" with a "k" that suddenly makes the place so much more appealing? Now, Marty never actually purchased the building his club is in, I designed it before I got OFB, and never felt like having to actually manage it as a business to keep things hopping. J.D.'s car lot wound up being pretty successful with a minimum of expenses besides the cars themselves. Kitty figured that Kitty's Korner would run just as smoothly, but she failed to take into account that I'm kind of an idiot, and with me managing things behind the scenes, the restaurant would quickly become a money pit, almost to the same extent as the early days of Andrews Radio Shock.

Welcome to "Kitty's Korner"…again, but with no roof...

While using family members to help work the business is always the cheapest way to do things, Kitty knew right away that she would have to have some non-family employees hired to fill the numerous different positions around the place (or she would be the only one working there if I visited while playing another family). She hired Allyn Wolf to work the register, despite her having no register skills to speak of. Regina Daniels was hired on as the greeter and seater, a job which didn't seem to require any special skills to do well from the beginning (maybe it does require them, but I've never seen a customer get frustrated because of a greeter being too slow). Regina did have some sales experience from working at her fish stand (rarely), so she might have been better suited to ringing up customers, but that would have made too much sense.

Kitty reserves the hardest job for herself - sitting on her butt...

You're probably wondering what the register in the place was for, since restaurants don't require a register, but I forgot to mention that Kitty's Korner also has a little book store in it. There were actually more book sales than food sales on average, so thank goodness for the books. Any good eatery pretty much needs to have a good chef, and finding one on short notice was a little tricky. The only person with massive cooking talent that Kitty knew well enough to offer a job to was Aimee Andrews, who already had a job as Chief of Staff on the medical career track, but she was more than happy to give that up, and accepted Kitty's offer (most folks say that surgery and preparing food are pretty similar). Of course, Aimee has quite a few talent badges, so hiring her actually cost a fair amount of money.

Aimee: "Chief…chef…it's only a difference of one letter…"

As with Amy and Radio Shock, hiring so many employees really started to put a drain on Kitty's finances. It was easy enough to make Marty, Julie, and J.D. work as the greeter, cashier, and server while Kitty talked up the customers, but nobody in the family was prepared to take over duties as chef when actually visiting the lot, because nobody knew how to cook. Well, since there were a ton of books right there in the store, and Kitty spent a lot of time sitting around anyway (the books were cheap enough that most customers already decided to buy them before Kitty could give them her sales pitch), she decided to sit around with a book and study cooking so she could be the chef if needed, and save a boatload of money.

Kitty: "For the last time, no! I really don't want to read aloud to you!"

The first few cooking points came pretty easily, as with all skill points, but then it started to take longer and longer for Kitty to learn anything new. Since it was at a community lot she owned instead of her home, there wasn't a little progress bar showing up over Kitty's head even though she was gaining skills, and that made things a little annoying. Eventually, though, Kitty had enough skill to take over the cooking duties, and take over she did. All of the actual paid staff were sent home, and the Wilson family officially took over all of the positions at Kitty's Korner themselves. Some cheap people will do anything to save a buck, but by this point, Kitty had already lost thousands of dollars paying employee wages without bringing in enough money to cover them. Not the sign of a good business, but you don't need me to tell you that.

Marty: "First the car lot, now this! Why am I always the cashier?"

Switching out the paid staff for family employees was probably the best move Kitty could have made at the time, because with no employees around to pay, and the books rarely needing to be restocked, pretty much all sales were pure profit. Of course, food isn't a huge money maker, so the positive cash flow was still little more than a trickle. Kitty found herself way too busy with the cooking to annoy customers with her sales pitch anymore, so J.D. was given the double task of waiter and customer schmoozer. At this point, the book store section had cheap, average, and expensive books, and it actually took a little work sometimes to sell the expensive ones. He'd developed quite the sales talent working at the car lot, though, so most customers were no match for his persuasive abilities.

J.D: "Believe me, you NEED a copy of Oprah's biography!"

As with my other stores, there were plenty of crabby customers coming in who served no purpose but to decide before they even started looking at stuff that they weren't actually going to buy anything. J.D. had a gold sales talent badge, but it had absolutely no effect on these vile creatures, whose only goal was to crush the hopes and dreams of anyone trying to make a sale. I usually see to it that those killjoy types are quickly dismissed to make room for "real" customers, but for some stupid reason, the same set of people always seem to show up over and over in cycles, and the crabby ones always seem to be crabby. That was just fine with me. They had only themselves to blame when I got frustrated and used the "boolprop" cheats to make them fat before they left the store.

Burglar: "Does this place offer a 'five finger discount'?"

After what seemed like an incredibly long time, Kitty's Korner achieved financial stability, in that it was bringing in more money than it was paying out on a regular basis (so long as the Wilsons were the only ones working, with none of the paid employees called in). Kitty decided that the slobby clothes most of the family were working in had to go, and insisted on fancier attire. To further abuse her role as the business owner, she decided that the eight hour shifts everyone had been pulling originally just weren't enough, and kept the store open until the wee hours of the night/morning (with a brief closing of the business in the afternoon for a break). The Monkeesim neighborhood has a booming vampire subculture, and staying open ridiculously late was the only logical way to exploit that.

Marty: "So, have you read the latest in the 'Twilight' series?"

Yes, it wasn't long before Kitty's Korner was pulling in the "freaks" hand over fist. Apparently, vampires, werewolves, and servos are literary nuts (they took advantage of the book section a lot more than they did the restaurant part of the establishment). I guess when you're considered "weird" or "scary" by the rest of society, it never hurts to have a good book to sit down with at home to wait out those torch and pitchfork carrying mobs laying siege to your house. Seriously, though, by this point in time, especially in the evenings, every other sim I'd see wandering the community lots was either a vampire, werewolf, servo, or plant sim. It was almost to the point where the "normal" sims would be the ones getting the funny looks.

Marty: "You wanted 'self-help'? Try the 'mechanics' section! "

Well, anyway, all's well that ends well. The business was doing fine, and that's all the more I want to say about it. Seriously, if I do any more "business heavy" posts here, I'm going to have to stop reading my own blog. Actually playing OFB is fun, but trying to depict the progress of my sim businesses without being hideously boring is a painful process at times. I do have at least one more post on the way with a little reference to a home business, but the good news is two-fold, because that post is a little ways away, and it's not your everyday business. But for now, no more of the "b" word. When we first began the TS2 era posts here, we spent a fair amount of time with the Hartman family, but we haven't heard much from them since Leon and Rinoa hooked up. How have things been going since then? Are they even still alive? Only time and our next post will tell!


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