That was it. What was A Monte Vista Story and is now generation one of Monte Vista Stories has come to an end. I’m not going to lie, it was a turbulent process, not nearly as easy or nice to write as other things I’ve done. But I still care a lot about what I’ve written here, and I’ve also learnt a lot in the process. There’s a lot of stuff I like and a lot of stuff I would like to change.
The first generation of Monte Vista Stories is essentially a first draft. And hot diggity damn, it is flawed. I’m not going to rag anymore on how bad I find some of the chapters, but instead reflect a bit on the process – it’s more fun to read (I hope) and more educational for myself. So, this is a lot like the post I did for CoM, reflecting on the process and sharing some pictures I left out. I hope it’ll be interesting. If not, at least I fulfill my own desire to talk about my writing so… *shrugs*
A word of warning: Massive spoilers ahead!
To Legacy or Not to Legacy
It was always my plan for what was A Monte Vista Story and is now Monte Vista Stories to be a legacy type story. It was also always my plan for it to be at least partially based on gameplay, and not let the story take over. (Lol, that worked out super well). When I started, I just wanted to do a fun romance and I’ve always liked Carlo (he was the founder’s spouse in my first legacy story) and I thought I’d do some more with him. I promised myself a few things when I started:
- No cute ingenue who stumbled onto this hardcore criminal and changed him with her goodness.
- No twins unless it happened naturally in-game (has become a moot point since I stopped playing).
- No accidental pregnancies.
The first two I stuck to pretty well, but for the third one, I had to admit that I couldn’t see a situation in which Carlo said: ‘Hey, let’s have babies’ and Vittoria was just like ‘Okay, cool’. It was an accident, but I decided to not make a big deal out of it. The way I see it, the two of them had too much wine and completely ignored taking any precautions… twice (well, probably several, but they got “lucky” twice). I don’t think this is out of character for them. Vittoria went with it because of her love for Carlo, and he was extremely excited about having kids with her. He’s adorable like that.
The gameplay stuff disappeared pretty quickly. I had pictures for several chapters where nothing much happened and I hated them – they were boring to write and took the story nowhere. It was basically just ‘Then they had babies’ which I know is the backbone of most legacies, but it doesn’t interest me much. I probably should have realised that it wouldn’t work out quite like that, knowing myself. But eh, live and learn!
Here are some pictures that I cut out:
Carlo’s personality grew from his traits, though with my own interpretation of the traits – the ‘evil’ comes in the form of how much he likes his job. And even then it’s more of an intellectual thing – he enjoys the challenge and the privilege and ordinary jobs would bore him. When I saw his other traits, I thought that spoke of a certain softness. Other than being evil, he loves the outdoors, has a green thumb, is charismatic, and artistic. I mean, yeah, there’s the whole crime and evil thing but… isn’t that kind of cute? So yeah, I probably went a little Draco in Leather Pants on him. He’s a wish fulfillment character and I don’t advocate dating criminals in real life, not even if they’re hot, beefy Italian studs. Leave it in fantasy land, girls.
Before I started playing, I totally cheated. He’s four days from being an elder when you load up the game and in my experience dies once his kids reach their teens (if you have them right away). I de-aged him to the start of adulthood, and I changed his nose. It was tiny, and though I’m generally all about cool noses (like, look at Vittoria’s – it’s wonderful), I also know it can create some really funky-looking noses if his wife’s nose is small. So yes, I cheated, but can we just agree that I only did good things for him? Looks-wise, he changed little after that. He’s kept the same hair all the way through (except for the final chapter), and I mostly just dressed him in different variations of the same outfit. The biggest change happened from chapter 11 onward, and the change was pretty much incidental. I tidied up my CC and got new defaults, including for facial hair, skin, and eyes. It made him way nicer to look at with the non-EA beard and eyebrows – and he got a little stubble, too.
Now, Vittoria was created the way most of my Sims are – I found a premade and changed her until I made something I thought was nice. She changed much less than Carlo. I’ve tried to change her face a few times, but everytime I tried doing much about her it, she came out looking bland, so I reverted – I like her face, and especially her odd, slightly awkward profile. The one thing I did change was her eyes. They had that weird EA boxyness and were extremely hard to fit custom 3D-lashes to once I got them, so they became a little more almond shaped.
I gave her glasses, round glasses based on someone I’d seen in my classes – I don’t see people with round glasses like that very often, so I think it looks really cool, really unique, and gives a vibe of ‘I don’t give a damn’. Later I came up with the one thing her and I have in common: we both have shitty eyesight. So when you see her without glasses, she’s wearing contacts (or not out of bed yet). Since the start I’ve almost always dressed her in greens. At first it didn’t have a point, but I think the dark green suits her. It makes me think of deep forests where only a little bit of light filters down from above – and that’s pretty apt for her character.
Lucia is one of the biggest problems with the story. I overall like the idea of her, but she starts out ridiculously powerful and then is killed off because she has a sudden case of The Dumbs and reveals herself to Carlo. It’s sort of implied that she’s mad because he brings up ‘the one who got away’ – his dad – but I wish I had established that better. I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t know this would be a thing until way later.
Looks-wise, she changed a lot. At first I had her as an elder, but I remembered that she had Vittoria at age 16. Vittoria is 26 at the start of the story, which would only make Lucia around 42, so I changed her to an adult. At first her looks were sort of white trash-y, a little worn out and past her prime. While talking with boyfriend though, I realised that Alessandro would need a really good reason to keep her around besides her manipulations – so, I made her very beautiful. For her look, I aged up Vittoria, softened out the hard lines in her features and made her eyes a little bigger. Once you see Vittoria aged up to adult, you may not that Lucia… kind of aged better than her daughter, and that’s deliberate. I’m not saying Vittoria isn’t pretty, but she does have some odd harsh lines in her face and for Lucia I eliminated all that – this lady is gorgeous, is what I’m saying. Maybe I’ll make it more clear in the edit. For her wardrobe I gave her outfits that are girly and hair that looks like she’s just rolled out of bed so she kind of looks cuckoo and not all there. At one point I had her first appearing with braids and a long, flowy pink dress – it was a bit much, and her ‘crazy’ hair is a better fit, I think.
I added Marta because I thought it would spice things up a bit. This was at a time when I still played the game, so I adopted her in-game and, needless to say, got a pudding face with weird greenish-brown hair. Thanks, EA. Annoyed at this, I cheated and edited her face to be more interesting and eventually I decided – screw it, I’m changing the stupid hair as well. Thus, you can assume that when her hair is greenish-brown in chapter 10, it’s because she’s been running and it’s super dirty. Yuck, I know, but just run with it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of her old face, but have this picture from a cut scene where she met a dog:
Marta and Vittoria’s relationship highlights my troubles with writing Vittoria properly. At first I had her be much more kind and gentle with the girl, but it was just wrong. However unreasonable, the reaction she actually had was more natural for her character. Vittoria is a passable mother to her kids, though hardly affectionate, and she has to be reminded by Carlo to show affection – hugs, kisses, and so on. It doesn’t come natural to her. Her relationship with Marta grows into something sweeter (I mean, sort of – as always my lack of attention to it is its greatest downfall), though in the years to come, they never really have a relationship like a mother and daughter would. Carlo becomes a dad to the girl, but Vittoria is more like an older sister. Fun gen 2 fact for ya there.
The story evolved as I wrote. I created Vittoria thinking she would have some kind of secret, because of course she would. What that secret was… eh, yeah, it came to me gradually. I only knew it would be something with her family. Once I thought of her also being involved in the gang stuff, I really dug it, though. It makes her and Carlo more equal and it’s something they have in common. It also defies the ‘cute ingenue changes the bad boy’-trope. She doesn’t change him, she doesn’t want to (and even if she did, she couldn’t), and in the end they fall in love because they both love what they do.
One thing I still regret is the four-year-time skip. It came about because I didn’t want to do the whole ‘then they leveled their skills, then they had babies, then those babies had birthdays…’-shtick. And at that point I honestly didn’t even enjoy playing. I haven’t touched any of my gameplay saves in ages, and I’m okay with that. I’m still thinking of ways around the time-skip in my edit, because it made things really difficult and really dumb. I honestly thought nobody would buy Vittoria betraying her husband after FOUR years together, but I guess I pulled it off somehow. It’s still the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever added to any story because it was super out of nowhere.
Originally, instead of the time skip, I wanted to have a scene after chapter 8 where Vittoria freaked/got angry because Carlo said he was in love with her. I couldn’t make it work because, once again – say it with me now – I cannot write Vittoria properly. I honestly can’t see her freaking out. She may react with bewilderment or puzzlement or a kind of intellectual curiosity – maybe she wondered what he thought he gained by saying that. But other than that, no. So uh, yeah, at the time my best idea was to skip four years ahead in the most abrupt fashion possible. Oh, the comments if had to the tone of ‘Oh, I was afraid I missed a chapter’. I’m so sorry guys – you didn’t skip anything. I did.
Well, before this gets too long, I should probably list off some facts about everything and nothing:
- Carlo and Vittoria’s little tiff about his shirt in the final chapter isn’t just me pulling something out of my butt (for once). She wears it in chapter 8 (after her and Carlo have sex for the first time), then later on it appears again in 14 and 16. Vittoria stole it before leaving home and wore it because she missed him. It was a subtle way of showing her true alliance to Carlo – though it was probably too subtle, since I don’t think anyone picked up on it.
- Speaking of subtle hints to Vittoria’s true alliance – the hair colour she has while it’s dyed is a darker version of his hair colour.
- After their wedding, Vittoria and Carlo wear these rings. They’re not your typical wedding band – Carlo chose them and he liked giving his wife a big, expensive, obvious ring. She doesn’t wear it while with her old gang, of course, though it’s back on in chapter 22.
- My favourite scenes to write were:
- Carlo and Vittoria’s argument in the last half of chapter 4. I love writing romantic tension and though I can see many ways of improving it now, I still think it’s fun.
- Carlo and Vittoria’s talk in the last half of chapter 8. I liked the view into Vittoria’s mind.
- Chapter 12. For some reason, writing about Carlo’s heartbreak was super fun. What can I say – us writers are some f’ed up folks.
- Carlo and Vittoria’s conversation in chapter 19. It grew very organically as I wrote and I liked how a messed up situation actually became very tender and romantic.
- The entire last chapter. It’s just a cute, relaxed chapter with lots of sweet moments but still with a hint that not everything is perfect – a little dose of realism, if you will. I like it that way.
- Vittoria’s real name, Lisa Giocondo, is inspired by Lisa del Giocondo, a woman you might better know as Mona Lisa. Yup, that Mona Lisa. It’s not a reference that means anything – I just thought I was clever or something.
- I’ve made a handy chart over the ages of the characters (the yellow cells mean the characters weren’t born at the time):
- Initially, Vittoria was going to be younger, but at an age of 20-22 hers and Carlo’s relationship felt icky and imbalanced. Since I wanted him to be in his mid-thirties (and he is adult in-game while she’s a young adult), I aged her up to be at an age when the brain is developed and most people act fairly mature. At their new ages, it also passes the ‘half your age + 7’ rule for relationships. (Carlo is 36, so it’s ‘okay’ for him to date people who are 25 and up).
- While shooting for a chapter (that I ended up junking) one of my extras was kidnapped by aliens. That day I learnt that being kidnapped by aliens snaps a sim out of their poses! It’s one of a very few times I’ve had an alien abduction happen naturally in-game – and I wasn’t even playing.
- Camillo just sort of… disappeared from the story. When I started writing, I really did want to go into his and Carlo’s relationship more (something to add for the edit), but the story with Vittoria took over and poor Camillo was relegated to appearing when needed as a wedding guest and emotional support.
- While still playing the game, at one point Vittoria (who has the evil trait) scared Carlo, and he rolled a wish to see her ghost. I was so upset by it that I didn’t play for a long time, and once I started again I installed a no-autonomous-scares mod.
- Speaking of dumb autonomous actions: Marta rolled the diva trait and her favourite passtime in-game is to accuse Giuliano, Carlo and Vittoria’s son, of being a diva. Consequently, their relationship is rather low. This is not canon to the actual story.
- The story was initially going to have a darker ending. In it, Vittoria still lived and faked her death after taking a bullet for Carlo. He didn’t know about her surviving and didn’t get a chance to hear her out. Franco helped her find a place to stay, and Carlo only found out about her being alive around seven years later; he found out because Franco died of a heart attack (yes, I was going to kill him off) and had arranged it so that Carlo would find out in case he died. In the final chapter, Carlo would have gone to see Vittoria and she would find out that he remarried in the intervening years – to a woman he didn’t love as much, but who was a great mother to the kids. It would result in him having an affair with Vittoria, which eventually broke up his new marriage and made Regina resent her parents (especially Vittoria). In the end, I felt it was too harsh and I couldn’t align Carlo with having an affair, no matter how much he loves Vittoria. I’m also glad I don’t have to write the angst fest that Regina’s gen would have been with her mummy issues. If you remember a recent photo shoot, those pictures would have been from this ending.
- At one point I also thought of having Marta kill Lucia. I scrapped the idea because of the lack of poses/accessories needed for a kid to do that, and also because it was just a bit… much. Marta is already traumatised enough without being a murderer.
- And let’s make the final fact about Marta as well: I for a while seriously considered to have Marta as an heir and just not bother with the bloodline thing, but I scrapped the idea as well, as I do want to see Carlo and Vittoria’s genes passed down.
I’ll leave it off here with a few bonus pics I couldn’t fit into the last chapter. Though this is it for now, I could probably write twenty pages more, so if there’s anything in the story you wonder about, feel free to ask. I’ve (mostly) loved writing generation 1 and I think it turned out well, despite the flaws and the things I regret. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading and binging and speculating in the comments. It’s been so much fun to have you along for the ride, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the next generation.
My thinking is that I’ll take a week’s break to get things ready for the generation, and that means that the first chapter will be out on the 9th of June, with a little teaser in between. I’ll see you then – have a great time!