Cookiemonger and I have competing Legacy Challenges going in The Sims 4.

The challenge itself if to raise ten generations of sims on the same, enormous lot. There are limitations placed on the selection of traits and aspirations, to the ultimate goal of exploring the majority of the game’s content.

I’ve been poking around the sims’ moods a lot because it falls within one of my areas of interest — emotions and psychology. It’s worth noting for the sake of conversation that most of my experience is with The Sims 2. I have virtually no experience with The Sims 3, which introduced related mechanics.

I have a favorite graphic that I appreciate — The Nature of Emotions — which I used for many years, but don’t reference nearly so much these days. My main complaint is with the inclusion of interest and boredom — those I believe, fall under a different area of psychology related to motivation.

My interest in the emotional spectrum of The Sims 4 began before I actually started playing, and hit its peak when I was trying to figure out how emotions related to each other. I enjoy the system — it makes me think.

A few days ago, I tried to “chart” the emotions of The Sims 4, using what information I could find about them on the Internet and knowledge I had from prior research. I started with a rosette, arranging the emotions by color.

While it seemed to provide a basic structure, the positions of the positive and negative emotions didn’t make sense to me. So I started over again using only the “basic” emotions likely Happy, Sad, and Angry.

That only got me so far — I still didn’t understand the inclusion of the emotions “Flirty” and “Playful” — which are both shades of pink.

I figure they must be two different expressions of the same basic emotion, split into two emotional states to facilitate different game interactions.

What had me scratching my head was why there were no “fear” emotions. This morning though, I realized that the “Embarrassed” emotion was the fear state. There isn’t a basic fear-state because it doesn’t really serve a useful function.

The Sims isn’t a survival horror game, you don’t need to express fear the same way you need to express playfulness.

So I charted another emotion rosette with my cardinal emotions as, Happy, Embarrassed, Sad, and Angry. That made the majority of the basic emotions negative, which seemed strange to me.

The next realization I had this morning was about how the Happy and Uncomfortable emotions seem to oppose each other — with Happy mood-lets arising from high Needs and Uncomfortable mood-lets from low Needs.

I created a through-line from Uncomfortable on one end, through Angry on the left, Fine in the center, to Happy on the right.

Once I read about how the Confident emotion grants bonuses to most interactions and skills — I dropped it on the far right end of my little emotional continuum. That made me wonder if there were other through-lines.

On the bottom of my chart, I put Bored and Dazed, and drew a through-line to Inspired via Sad. I put Focused beyond Inspired.

On the top of my chart, I created a parallel line starting with Tense, through Fear (Embarrassed) and Energized, to Playful/Flirty which I combined for the purpose of the chart. My chart isn’t perfect but it makes a lot of sense to me.

Actually, the question that arose while I was contemplating the sims’ emotional spectrum was whether the “Uncomfortable” mood-lets compounded negative emotions at some point earlier in the development of the game, similarly to how “Happy” improves positive emotions.

If it did — which is speculation on my part — I hypothesize that it would create unpredictable mood-swings in sims that would be difficult and annoying to play. As it stands, Happy mood-lets improve positive emotional states which can be challenging to acquire.

If Uncomfortable mood-lets compounded negative emotions, you’d get something more akin to say, Dwarf Fortress.

I’d be interesting in seeing the results of that.