Supply and Demand: The Factory Factor
Statement of the Problem
So you've started a business. You've decided to base it on
one of the craftables The Sims 2: Open for Business provides. Robots,
Toys, Flowers, or Food. If you've done this, you've probably run into the
biggest disincentive to run a Crafted Item Business:
Sims will buy your craftables faster than you can make them.
And you find yourself running out unexpectedly, having to close the business
before you're ready, and worst of all, there are no craftables left for your
Playables to come and buy. What to do, what to do?
You can stop selling craftables altogether. It's an option. One of the fun
things about running a business, particularly a Community-Lot Business, is getting
otherwise-unobtainable items into the hands of the Sims who can make them, If you've
got The Sims 2: Seasons, you can use the Give Gift option to get around
this. However, if there's no relationship between the maker and the recipient,
there's a lot of work that needs to be done to get things to a point where a
gift will be accepted.
You can decide to take the Craftables off sale when you're playing the lot,
and put them back on sale when you leave. Also doable. This will allow you to
have the craftables for sale when you send a Neighbor to the lot. Just remember
to do so before you send the Owner home. You'll also lose a shade of verisimilitude,
as your Robot Shop won't be selling robots most of the time you'll have it loaded.
And, of course, this doesn't help Home Businessers.
You can make the craftables at Home. However, as you've observed, making
craftables takes time. Home-time can also be used for taking care of children,
building a garden, dating, throwing parties, and all manner of things. And if
you're playing with aging on, there's a limited amount of time your Sims
have to make stuff. And if you do it on a Business lot, either your Sim or
an employee has to spend time doing it instead of something more lucrative.
It's for these reasons, and a few more, that I wound up building Community-Lot
Factories in my neigborhood.
So what is a Factory?
A Factory is a specialized Community Lot built to employ Sims to create
Crafted Items for the lot's owner. These objects will wind up in the owner's
inventory. The owner can then take his inventory over to his sales lot and
sell the items. With factory production, the owner can have all eight of the
employees do nothing but produce items for sale on other lots.
- Specialization: You can have as many employees (up to the standard
eight) producing these items for you as you want. Given that the game limits you to a total of eight employees by default, if you were to have these Sims producing craftables on your business lot, you'd have fewer employees potentially available to restock, cashier, or sell. If you had employees who did double-duty. If you're using Servos at home, these servos take up space in your household.
- Transferability: All community lot businesses can be bought and sold. If the buyer is a Playable Sim, the Business Information, Business-Rank and Employees go to the new owner. As a result, you only need one type of factory
for any and all Sims in the neighborhood who need that type of craftable.
All you have to do is put the deed for the lot
on an accessible wall, and mark it for sale. You can use a custom price to set it as high or as low as you want. Then just send the new owner to the lot, and have him purchase the lot. You don't need to have a register. Confirm the purchase, and the new owner will go home. You can then send him to his lot to stuff his inventory for his lots.
- Instantaneity: Since the crafted items are being made on a separate lot, they do not take away home time. The owner will return at about the same time that he left, and if you so desire, could have been meditating on the lot the whole time while his employees churn out a plethora of objects for him.
- Economy: Producing off-site with a factory means that the production costs for the items isn't included in the Sales Tracker on the Retail Lot. "Run From Home" income is based on the profit earned on the lot, so if your crafted
items are produced off-site, your profit at the sales lot is higher.
- Load Time: Given that it's a separate lot, if you don't consider your loading time to go to a community lot acceptable, you probably won't want to do this. On the other hand, depending on the lot and the craftables, you may only have to load the Factory lot once in several sales lot sessions to fill up the inventory.
- Expense: Owning two lots is going to be more expensive than owning one in virtually all cases. However, once someone in the neighborhood owns it, you can sell it to other Sims at as low as $1.
- Setup: If you're going to do it cheatlessly and hacklessly, setting up a factory from the point of unskilled workers to gold-badged/Cooking-10 employees takes a heck of a long time. However, because of the nature of factories, you only have to do it once.
Building Your Factory
You're going to need Snapdragon Bouquets. Snapdragon Bouquets can be produced by Sims who have the Gold Floristry Badge, and when properly made, will puff out a Pink Mist every so often. This mist boosts all Regular-Sim Motives except Energy, within a short range. Place enough Snapdragon Bouqets and you won't have to send your employees home until they run out of energy. About three Snapdragon bouquets are necessary to to kill the motive drain of crafting.
Note that when improperly-made, Snapdragon bouquets will drain Motives instead with a Green Mist, and there's no way to tell an Evil Snapdragon from a Good One without watching it Mist. The best way to avoid producing Evil Snapdragons seems to be to have them produced by Sims in Platinum Aspiration.
There are two major types of factories: Crafted item factories, and Food Factories both work in pretty much the same way. There are, however, some signficiant design differences between the two: Crafted Item Employees will tend to stay at their assigned stations until you send them on break or home.
For a simple Crafted Item Factory, all that's neccessary is The Sims 2: Open for Business. Place the number of Crafting stations you need, plonk the required number of Snapdragons and go.
Special Case: The Food Factory
For Food Factories, things are a little more complicated. Food Factory Employees will probably be using at least three different items, and will tend to wander from room to room.
To be able to produce almost every type of food in the game, you'll need to provide Refrigerators, Empty Counters, Stoves, For my Food Factories, I usually set up the following, assuming N Food Preparation Employees and 1 Janitor:
N+1 each of Open Counters, and Stoves. Since these are items that will dirty, having at least N+1 of them means that at any one time, at least one of them will be available for cleaning by your Janitorial Employee without impeding the other employees.
N each of Refrigerators, Counters with Food Processors, Microwaves, and Grills. These are non-cleaning items, and can be safely ignored by the janitor.
Note that the Janitor employee is purely cosmetic. Whether or not you clean the food-preparation items has no effect on their worth, their food quality, or the likelihood of fire.
If you're running a food factory that creates any type of Cooked Food, you will have to deal with fires. They are completely unavoidable. My reccomendation would be twofold for this:
- Compartmentalize: Fires and their effects cannot spread outside of the room they start in. By enclosing your fire-generating items in a room, you limit both the danger and the hygiene drain to the room the fire occurs in.
- Sprinklers: These objects came with University, and to my mind, are absolutely vital to a safe food factory. A fire alarm will mean that a fireman will have to arrive on the lot, and make it to the burning room before there's a chance that he'll put out the fire. In the Unpatched version of Open For Business, they won't even show up. Sprinklers take care of nearby fires, at the cost of a little more easily-taken-care of mess.
- Vigilance: You're not out of the woods once the fire's out. In general, employees won't remove food from an oven that caught fire; you're going to have to send in your playable Sim to get the food and make the oven usable again. You'll also need to do this if your Sims drop food on the floor, as it won't get cleaned up until it goes bad, otherwise.
Staffing Your Factory.
Once you've got a factory, you'll need employees. In the cheatless fashion, your best bet is to run a Hiring Tour:
When a Sim uses the "Business...Hire Sims" option on his home lot, he's presented with a selection of Sims that he can hire to his Home- or Community-Lot businesses. If he has a Cell Phone, you can send him to a Community Lot and do the same thing, and the Sims available to hire will be
from the Sims who were available at home. By bouncing from community lot to community lot, you are presented with a far larger number of potential employees than if you just hired from home.
My personal preference is to hire the unskilled and unbadged, as they're the cheapest hires. However, if you are going to do this, you're going to have to deal with spending days of gametime training them. For an unskilled, no-badge Sim to achieve a gold Crafting badge takes 84 hours of crafting, and without cheating or hacks, this takes a large number of sessions.
So if you're going to cheat instead, this is probably the easiest way to do it.
Create Sims you want to work in your Factory. In general, stats aren't important, but if you plan to use J.M. Pescado's Business Runs You hack, the benefits of Playful/Active 6+ (Which will make them run when appropriate) are quite useful.
- On the Neighborhood Screen, use
Ctrl-Shift-C to pop open the cheat console, and enter the cheat boolprop testingCheatsEnabled true.
- Move the new Sim into the house of the owner of the Factory.
If you're staffing a Food Factory, drag the Employees' Cooking Skill to 10.
If you're staffing a Craft Factory, Shift-Click on any of the sims on the lot, and select "Spawn... Badge Juicer." Use the Badge Juicer object to give the employees the Gold Badge of the Appropriate Skill, then delete it.
- Open the household of the factory owner
- Drag the relationship bars for owner and employee so that they have 100/100 relationships with each other. Do one positive platonic interaction to cement Best Friendship.
- Open the Cheat Console again, and enter boolProp testingCheatsEnabled false
- Have the employees use the Newspaper, Phone, or Computer to Find Own Place and move them all out.
- Back to the Neighborhood screen. Put the employees in a Neighborhood Lot that has a phone.
- Back the the lot-owner's house. Send him to the Factory Lot. While the lot is open, have him call the prospective employees and Invite them over. Use the "Hire" interaction on them. Since they're bestfriended, they'll accept.
Operation of the factory is simple. Go to the lot and Callin your employees. Assign them their jobs. Because of the profuse use of Snapdragons, you'll be able to pretty much ignore them until their dots turn red, at which point, you can send them home.
Due to a quirk of the programming, craft factories are a little wonky. WHen you call in employees to craft, they'll all go for the nearest Crafting Station. The first one who gets there will be able to use it; all subsequent Crafter Employees will complain, and then unassign themselves. Assign them to new Crafting stations when you call them in by clicking on the stations
To break even on the crafting lot, I typically run a small venue with the ticket machine, charge a hundred or so an hour, and Dazzle sims in. It's not neccessary, as iff you've been frugal in hiring employees, you'll still make a net profit when everything's taken into account.
If you plan to be able to pass the lot to another Sim, before you leave, put the deed up on the wall, and mark it for sale. Set the price to what you think is fair. That way, any other Sim in the neighborhjood who needs to buy the factory can come to the lot, buy the factory, go back home, return to the lot, and run it for his benefit.
Hacks that Help
This can be done hacklessly, and for awhile, I did do it without the use of hacks or cheats. However, there are some hacks that I'd highly reccomend to make the factory process go much smoother.
- Paladin's Crafting Station Routing Fix
- Available at simwardrobe.com Fixes the problem mentioned above. Reroutes crafting station Sims to the next available station if the one they initally select is occupied. Crafting factories benefit immensely.
- J.M. Pescado's Business Runs You Hack
- Available at MATY A truly wonderful business running hack, that requires several other hacks to work properly. However, it does a large number of extremely useful things, such as force employees (and playables!) to automatically take breaks when their motives get strained enough, and actually act to satisfy those motives. This will allow you to run a properly-configured lo indefinitely. Discussions of the various other ridiculously useful things it does can be found at the site linked above
Hopefully, this extremely rambling, pictureless, poorly-written article gave you some idea about the construction of Factories in the Sims 2, Why I build them, and what use they are. Personally, I find them extremely useful. Your mileage may vary.