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Friday, August 22, 2014

Sims 4 Create-A-Sim DEMO

Sims 4 Create-A-Sim Demo

My roommate 'Mama Melissa' downloaded the Sims 4 Create-A-Sim (CAS) Demo when it was made public on August 12, 2014. Knowing a LOT of disabled folks LOVE The Sims franchise (myself included), I decided to play around with it.

The first time, I created myself, with the help of Mama Melissa. I didn't save 'me' to the library/gallery, but then I thought, Wait... I know a lot of disabled people love playing The Sims. They might want to know how well they are going to be able to use the 'New and Improved' CAS tool.'

So, a few days later, I went back, this time creating Mama Melissa.

NOTE: the only age group you can create is the Young Adult bracket in the Demo version.

^^'Mama Melissa' full body in Create-A-Sim^^

The whole premise of The Sims 4 CAS tool is it's suppose to be easier and more intuitive to make sims. You are supposed to be able to mold and model every single body part just by clicking and dragging with ease...

Honestly, you can't.

Mama Melissa has TINY ankles, but thick, muscular calves. What you see is the thinnest I could make the ankles without making thin calves. She also has thicker thighs, but increasing the thighs makes the hips and rump bigger.

If you try to adjust the stomach to look like she has a 'pot belly,' you either give her a 'beer gut,' what could pass for a pregnant belly or it widens the hips.

^^Facial screenshot of 'Mama Melissa' in Create-A-Sim^^

I spent the MOST time on Mama Melissa's face. This is what annoyed me the MOST with the CAS tool.

Mama Melissa does NOT have a crappy computer by far. She owns a Dell Inspiron 560 with Stock hardware specs and running Windows 7 Home. She also uses a Logitech V220 wireless mouse. For whatever reason, the dragging is not as 'snappy' as shown in other Sims 4 CAS Demo videos. I don't want to say it catches or hangs, but it's slower and takes a LOT more effort on her system than other systems. Sometimes, slight adjustments are not even recognized by the game.

It is also virtually impossible to adjust the tilt of the nose. Both Mama Melissa and I have what could be called 'upturned' balls on the end of our noses, mine is more upturned than hers. Both times I played in the program, I was unable to turn the tip upwards.

I do realize that there is only 5% of the CAS objects included in the demo and that the full game will have more features/options (or so I would hope), but you should be able to have the full gamut of at least the options with the Demo. There is NO way to create double chins; if you make a fat Sim, it will have a moderately slim neck and no double chin. You cannot do 'streaks' of color in the hair, and it seems you cannot have facial/body modifications beyond ear piercings with the Demo. Hairstyles are limited and, for lack of a better term, blocky. There is no color wheel/picker, only preset color choices.

As far as how well disabled folks will be able to use the CAS demo, it's honestly a tough call. I have fairly good dexterity in my hands/arms, and I found it difficult to accurately drag the various body parts. Mama Melissa is able-bodied, and she found it slightly difficult. Her exact words: 'I find it easier to pick a preset and make slight adjustments.'

If you would like to see more videos on the CAS demo (or just The Sims 4 in general) you can have a look at IGN's playlist on The Sims 4: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLraFbwCoisJB3KA1Lr4HtsY0_5CP-alyJ

If you want to try The Sims 4 CAS Demo for yourself, You can do so here: The Sims 4 Create-A-Sim Demo (You WILL need to have an Origin ID and the Origin Software Client on your system... This is a WINDOWS ONLY demo, so Mac users are out of luck)

Mama Melissa HAS pre-ordered The Sims 4 Premium Edition from Walmart, so when she has installed the game and the game is set up, I will do a review of the actual game.

I really like the CAS demo. It is more modern and simpler, but it doesn't equate to being easier. I'm looking excitedly forward to the actual gameplay of The Sims 4.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Genius LuxeMate i200 keyboard

Genius LuxeMate i200

  • Stylish slim keyboard
  • Compact size design for space-saving
  • Twelve function keys for instant access internet and multimedia applications
  • Fashionable square keycaps are soft to the touch and great for typing
  • A USB interface means a plug-and-play experience that's ready to go right away, with no software to install.
  • Color: Black (with blue accents)

Technical Specifications
Interface Support: USB
Number of Hot Keys: 12 (Multimedia, Internet)
OS Support: Windows7 / Vista / XP (also works with Linux/Ubuntu)
Interface Support: USB
Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches ; 15.8 ounces

DESCRIPTION Genius adds a new slim keyboard to its popular i-series for desktop PC’s, LuxeMate i200. With its compact design, this multimedia keyboard saves your working space. The fashionable square keycaps are soft to the touch and great for typing.

The LuxeMate i200 offers 12 hot keys for one-touch access to Internet, email, and media functions. Multimedia controls offer easy control for music and video functions including Mute, Play/Pause, Stop, and Volume. Internet navigation is simple with buttons for Internet bookmarks, search, and forward and backward page navigation. Each hot key is programmable, allowing you to create shortcuts to any of your favorite applications.

Mama Melissa has had this keyboard for about 8 months now, and she really likes it. So, when my Dell OEM keyboard (the one that came with her Windows 7 system) started giving me trouble, I decided to hit up eBay for a twin of it.

^^photo from auction – credit to eBay user 3000hotdeals^^

At $11.99, I couldn't pass that deal up. I got FREE Priority 2-day shipping, but by no fault of the seller, it was 3 days.

It's not much bigger than the width of my Dell Optiplex 745 SFF computer system. This is a plus, since in the current setup we have, Mama Melissa and I share a workspace and room is scarce. It also allows more room for my wireless mouse.

It's plug-and-play, which means no downloading of drivers. Just hook it up to an available USB port and start typing. The product specs make it out to be compatible with Windows systems, but it works perfectly with my Ubuntu 14.04 system. I cannot attest for Mac usage... I haven't tried it on a Mac/Apple system.

Actual keyboard. This is a mini-keyboard, so there is no separate numeric pad. Directional keys are located down the side and a few along the top.

The keys remind me of chiclet-style pieces of gum (Remember those?) They have a bit of resistance to them, but nothing like the resistance a mechanical keyboard would have. Typing is easy and quiet; the most noise you will have from this keyboard is if you have any sort of length to your nails or you do 'nail typing.' The keys are individually 'housed,' so the keyboard is water-resistant. (Obviously, I did not test this theory, since I didn't want to ruin a brand new keyboard)

One thing I noticed after using it for a few hours is the difference in the 'Windows key' logo. This particular model is imprinted with the Windows 8 logo on the 'Windows key,' which for me, is the Ubuntu SuperKey. Mama Melissa's model is the Windows 7 design, complete with the cut out circle.

You can see how the Dell OEM keyboard and the middle photo (Mama Melissa's keyboard) have the 'Circle' Windows logo cut into them, where my keyboard (far right) has the new Windows 8 logo. These is strictly a design difference and doesn't affect the effect of the key itself.

As for how well a disabled person can use this, it's all going to depend on the person's dexterity. If they can use an OEM keyboard, this will be just as easy to use. If the person had a hard time using a standard keyboard, don't expect this to be any easier.

Genius keyboards have consistent quality products. The construction of their products are well-made, and they are easy to use.