It took only about seven years, but The Sims 4 finally released an actual pond tool for the base game recently. But if you feel like you would rather build ponds the old way of faking it with fountains and pools, you are not alone.
The pond tool for The Sims 4 kind of sucks. Digging a hole with terrain tools and dumping some generic water into it, somewhat haphazardly, might be some people’s idea of fun. But it’s mostly finnicky and frustrating and all of that just for having some frozen water and frogs.
Sure, you can get clever and hide the flickering edges with plants and rocks, but that’s what players have been doing with ‘fake’ ponds in The Sims 4 all this time.
And while building a bridge and getting Sims over it is much easier now, it’s hardly a revolutionary new dawn that is going to inspire an avalanche of YouTube videos where people’s parents build ponds for the amusement of the internet.
The Sims 4 has had a hidden pond tool all along
By no means is this having a go at the developers of The Sims. Game development is a hellish job and under the constraints of *gestures vaguely* this, the team has done a pretty good job delivering content on deadline during a whole global pandemic. Bugs aside.
Speaking of bugs, though, their addition as pond effects is somewhat curious and underscores the crux of many players’ frustrations with The Sims 4.
If you’re not familiar with mods, the pond tool along with ducks, fireflies, tadpoles , alligators and an assortment of other special effects might feel like something brand new – but they have been part of the game for years.
Not just have they existed, but Sims 4 modders like Bakie have been unlocking them so that players can use them since way before the release of the pond tool.
The same goes for the water tool that fuels your frustration before it fills your pond. Hidden in debug mode, ‘water tools’ have existed in various forms, including waterfalls, as long as you knew where to look.
And, you guessed it, custom content creators and modders have been using these and sharing them with players ever since they were first discovered. Bakie, through their wholesome nature mods, and Arnie from The Sims Plus through the semi-open worlds which allowed players to use the ‘pond tool’ before it became the pond tool.
Therein lies the rub. It is not so much that the pond tool is a bit buggy and tricky to use. That does not really matter, because what is The Sims franchise if it is not a bit buggy and tricky to use. And it is certainly not that anyone questions the dedication of the developers.
Rather, it is the way in which releases like these – features that have either existed as part of the game, hidden beneath the surface (we’ll get to the whole milkable cow situation in another article…) – being unveiled as if they are essentially brand-new features. As we have said before, we need to talk about how The Sims…ermm…talks. And we don’t mean when Simlish is misheard as English.
There have been some improvements to more transparent and clearer communication from The Sims over the last few months, but let’s not make a big pond out of a small fish….or whatever other confused metaphor is deemed appropriate.