Chit-Chat with Artists: TheWestKid11 from MTS2, CC4Sims & The Exchange – I Want to Become an Architect!
Alek, in community known as TheWestKid11, is only 16 and yet creates really good houses for our Sims! It seems like he’d like to become an architect and I believe that The Sims 2 is a great tool for him to get better in building houses. He comes from the United States and if you wonder what he’s like, how he builds his houses and what keeps him going when he creates new stuff, read this interview!
Spring4Sims: Hey, TheWestKid11! I already know something about you, but could you tell something about yourself to your fans?
TheWestKid11: Hi everyone, how are you all doing today? My real name is Alek, and I’m 16 years of age. I’m still school-age, so I am a high-school student.
Spring4Sims: We all have some story behind how we found The Sims games. What’s yours? How long have you been playing?
TheWestKid11: One day, just eight years ago, I was at my cousin’s house, and we were being baby-sat by our grandmother. My cousin was 2 years older than me, 10, at the time and was really excited to show me a new computer game that she got. It was, as you’ve probably guessed, The Sims. My cousin and I spent the whole day creating our “sim-selves” along with decorating our dream home. Of course, toilets were placed on the lawn, the pool took up over half the yard, and the bedrooms took up the other. The day after I went and bought a copy for myself: I was hooked.
Spring4Sims: The portfolio of your works includes mostly houses, but there is some stuff made with The Sims 2 Homecrafter as well. Why do you prefer making this kind of custom content?
TheWestKid11: I’ve always enjoyed making houses, mostly because I have wanted to become an architect ever since I could remember. I think the fact that every single person in the world needs a place to call home, and the possibility of me helping them get there has always pushed me in the direction of professional architecture. That and the ability to explore my creativity in a less traditional manner. As for Homecrafter, I mostly use it to fill in the gaps of what I think Maxis is missing, I use it to fulfill my architectural vision of what I see the house cosmetically looking like. All in all, they walk hand-in-hand.
Spring4Sims: Most creators need some kind of muse that will keep them enthusiastic about their work. What is yours? Or maybe who?
TheWestKid11: For me, it’s the comments, criticism, and praise that I receive for my work. Honestly, the number of downloads are not important to me anymore. Sure, they’re nice to have, but it’s what the public thinks of my work that really drives me. The Sims 2 allows me to explore and use my creativity in so many different ways, so that also helps me “mix it up” sometimes, so I won’t ever become bored.
Spring4Sims: Do you use some architectonic plans to create houses? Or do you create them in your head?
TheWestKid11: Most of the designs that I create are straight out of my head. I look at architecture and even ordinary things while driving throughout my community, and I receive inspiration to create homes and floorplans. I also think that taking an architecture course in school has really helped me, because now I have a greater feel for what works and what doesn’t in a “real home”. Sometimes I do use house-plans, which can sometimes be very fun and challenging to recreate. It may seem easier, but once you get into translating feet or meters to grid squares, it can get tricky and complicated. That’s one of the reasons that I prefer thinking of my own plans.
Spring4Sims: I see that some of the lots you’ve created are really big, some furnished, some unfurnished. How much time does it take you to create one house?
TheWestKid11: It definitely varies. For example, “The Eco-Friendly Contemporary” took me about a week to finish, because many building cheat codes were used, and the lot was fully furnished and landscaped. But when I set out to build a “starter home” (under $20,000), I can usually build it and take the pictures in only a few hours. But now that school has started up again, all of my building time has become scarce. I have been working on one lot for over two weeks! It all depends on the size of the project, and the amount of spare time that is available to me.
Spring4Sims: I’ve noticed you don’t usually include custom content in your lots. Why is that?
TheWestKid11: To be completely honest and blunt, it’s because I don’t use it myself. I know that my computer cannot handle a lot of custom content besides Homecrafter items, and I don’t want people that have the same situation as me to be turned away from my creations. There is a lot of wonderful custom content out there, but not everyone’s computers can handle it in large doses.
Spring4Sims: When I usually play the game and try to build a new house, I always find something that I’m missing in the game. Are there any specific tools you’d definitely love to see in The Sims 2 or maybe in The Sims 3?
TheWestKid11: One thing that I’ve always wanted in-game was the ability to expand and shrink your lot size during play, sort of like in The Sims 1. I sometimes find myself picking a smaller lot, but then realizing that the lot that I have already started building is only a few grid squares too big to fit! If the ability to expand or shrink lots, without mods, was included in The Sims 3 I would be very happy.
Spring4Sims: What’s your favorite part about building?
TheWestKid11: My favorite part of building would have to be creating the floor plans. Coming from an architecturally knowledgeable background, I know for a fact that a layout can make or break the home. I usually sketch this part out before I build, so that way I have an idea of what the lot is going to look like before I even open the game. But in all honesty, I just love all parts of the building process, from sketching to furnishing!
Spring4Sims: What would your dream house look like?
TheWestKid11: If I could have my dream home, it would definitely be in the ultra-modern style, located along some body of water, be it a lake or an ocean. I love the city life though, so it would have to be fairly near a large city. And of course, it would have to be a mansion… 🙂 But realistically speaking, I would love a nice-sized two story home in a suburb. Just your “average joe” type of life, I have a feeling that’s what I’ll end up in.
Spring4Sims: Now imagine you’d have skills to create anything you’d like to – meshes, skintones, objects… What would you start with? What would appeal the most to you?
TheWestKid11: If I could create anything, it would be the ability to mesh. Although I try to stay away from custom content myself, I think that it’s so awesome how creators and artists can craft a 3D object to be used in-game. That requires a lot of talent… In the near future, I would like to learn how to re-color though, as I have learned that Maxis sometimes forgets to include some “good looking” patterns to choose from when decorating!
Spring4Sims: Although you already told me you plan to “wean off the Exchange”, most of your creation are still there. Do you have any specific reason? I think most of the creators don’t like to upload their files there. What are, in your opinion, the advantages of the Exchange? What would you like to see better?
TheWestKid11: In the future, I would definitely like to upload less frequently to the exchange, because I see it as an unfair uploads site. The site as a whole has its pros and cons, with the cons outweighing the pros in my opinion. I don’t like the rating system for one, it’s very easy for random people to click on your link and give you a “1 star” to “downrate” your lot, without even looking at what you’ve created. I also don’t like how it’s not regulated very well. For example, I have had more than a few uploads taken from me and uploaded on different sim-pages, and there’s no real way of fix that! But one of the pros of the site is the amount of traffic it gets, as well as it being a great place to begin your building career. You get a lot of opinions and downloads so it’s a great confidence booster when you’re just starting out. I have some of my lots still on there not for downloads, but more so because I still have friends on that site, and because I feel an emotional connection to my building roots.
Spring4Sims: Where will we see your creations the most in the future – on MTS2 or CC4Sims? Or have you ever thought of having your own site?
TheWestKid11: The thought of my own site has always been in the back of my mind, ever since I started to realize that I really love creating for The Sims 2. I was actually considering starting one for myself, but that’s when the lovely ladies at CC4Sims.com contacted me and requested me to become an artist on their site. After seeing what beautiful things they create and do, I was hooked and am now a happy resident artist on their site. I the future, I see most of my uploads there.
Spring4Sims: The lots you make are created in different style – some are modern, some are country houses and some Victorian. It’s quite a big range of different architecture. Do you have a favorite one?
TheWestKid11: I would have to say that I really don’t have one specific favorite style. I like to build in many different styles, like the ones that you mentioned above, so that I am constantly challenging myself. Of course, I do have a few favorite styles that I like to go back to and build, such as “contemporary”, “country”, “Victorian”, and “city”. But if I never experimented with different styles, I would never know how diverse of a builder I am or could eventually become. Who knows, I might just be an expert at building “Mediterranean” homes, and I don’t even know it yet!
Spring4Sims: As The Sims 2 is getting older, we know it will soon be replaced with The Sims 3. What will you do then? Do you plan to move on or just stick with the old one?
TheWestKid11: That’s a really tough question for me to answer. Being a junior in high school, I am well aware of the tough life that’s ahead of me in the university level of my schooling. Knowing that, it’s really hard to imagine me studying and working through college, but also finding time to play many videogames. To answer the question, I will probably stick with The Sims 2, because I already have put a lot of money into the series. For me, going out and buying The Sims 3 to play for one year just isn’t worth it.
Spring4Sims: Considering making houses is kind of a hobby to you, what do you do when you’re not building anything?
TheWestKid11: When I’m not building, school and friends are my primary focuses. Homework is usually the first priority for me, but if I get asked to go to the movies with a really cute girl, some exceptions can definitely be made. 🙂 I also work a few nights a week at a coffee shop, so that’s something else that takes up my Simming time. Sporting events, extracurricular meetings, and family time will fill out the rest of the day. In total, I usually have less than an hour, give or take, for The Sims 2 each day.
Spring4Sims: How would you describe The Sims as a game? What do you think about it and why do you like it?
TheWestKid11: The Sims 2 for me is like a virtual dollhouse, only with many added bonuses. Not only can you play with your “dolls”, but you can also build for them, design and decorate their homes, create clothing for them, give them new looks, take pictures of them, and include them in your stories. Now where else can you find that on a store shelf? I like it so much because of all of those creative outlets that you can go into. You can be interested in one genre of creation, or you could experiment in all of them! It’s all up to you, the creator. That, I think, is brilliant.
Spring4Sims: Do you have any other favorite games?
TheWestKid11: Surprisingly, I combine The Sims 2 with many other videogames to create my favorites list. For instance, I love to play Halo 3 on my Xbox360, as well as rock out on the drums on Rock Band for Wii! I also have always been a fan of Mario Kart and other classic Nintendo games, but that’s more of a multiplayer thing when friends are over.
Spring4Sims: Let’s change the topic a little now and continue with some fun questions. 🙂 If you were a Sim, what personality points would you have and what aspiration would you choose?
TheWestKid11: Ooh, I like this! If I were a Sim, I would be fairly sloppy, a little shy, fairly active, playful, and very nice. And if were given an aspiration, I would go with fortune, with a secondary aspiration of family.
Spring4Sims: Do you think that the game is addictive? For example, when I do some shopping and see something, I have to say for myself “Wow, I have this in my game!”. Do you have any moments like this?
TheWestKid11: I definitely think that the game is addictive, and it sticks and stays in my head even after I save and quit! For instance, the other day I was in my room, and I noticed that I had the same exact IKEA dresser as one of the Sims in my home did! I had known that it looked familiar, but the difference in color threw me off a little. I thought that was a little funny, and really cool. The next annual IKEA trip that my family takes will be a fun one, I will on the lookout for “Sim stuff”! Another instance happened at my local H&M, where I bought one of the sweatshirts that was featured in that stuff pack on a clearance shelf! Definitely a little surreal.
Spring4Sims: If you think there’s something more you’d like to tell us, then speak up your mind!
TheWestKid11: I just wanted to thank you all for having me here for an interview. I really enjoyed speaking my mind and sharing my opinions and thoughts on The Sims 2 as well as my own creations. I love this site, and wish you all the best. Thank you again, so much, for having me. It’s truly an honor. And I hope that all of you, the readers, will be seeing a lot more of me soon!
Thank you, Alek, very much for taking this interview! It was pleasure to ask you questions – I hope your enthusiasm lasts forever!
Are you a creator? Would you like to like to tell your fans more about yourself? Than what are you waiting for? Send me an email at HannahSpring(at)gmail.com and be more popular than you were yesterday!