SimGolf In Depth Articles
These are longer dissertations on SimGolf design and features. Newest articles will be posted at the bottom of the list.
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About Golfer Abilities by Sid Meier
Some notes on the game (did you know?) by Sid Meier
More on Golfers Abilities by radiospace
Making an Imagination Hole by Avenger
Course Building Tips by Lord Corwin
The Fun Rating by Sid Meier
Placing monuments by Sid Meier
Speeding up and slowing down play by Sid Meier
Buying Land and Making Fun by JZ Temple
- About Golfer Abilities by Sid Meier
- Improving the skill ratings of your holes is really one of the most subtle and
interesting parts of the game. The shot analysis function really helps a lot
here. I've discovered a few techniques that seem to help improve a hole's skill
- The three skill ratings that you get for your holes (length, accuracy, and
imagination) are the same skills that your golfers may or may not have. What
the game does is compare the average score of players who have the length skill
against the players who don't have the length skill - this determines the
length skill rating of a hole. To make it easy, imagine all the players with
the length skill scored a 4 and all the players without the skill scored a 5,
the length skill rating of the hole would be 1.00
- So how do I improve the length skill rating? Well I've noticed that players
without the length skill hit the ball about 150-180 yards and players with the
length skill hit it 200 yards or more if I have a driving range ; so if I add a
little hill to my hole across the fairway about 150 or so yards from the tee my
short hitters will hit on the upslope and their balls will stop. My longer
hitters will get the ball past the crest of the hill and roll down the hill for
extra distance. If I'm feeling really sneaky, I'll use some Firm Fairway on
the backside of the hill to get extra roll!
- The accuracy skill works the same way: comparing the scores of the accurate
golfers vs. the golfers without the accuracy skill. Surrounding your green
with water is the classic way to reward the accurate golf shot, and it seems to
work quite well in SimGolf. Just don't make it too hard or your members get
- The imagination rating is the really tricky one. Golfers with the imagination
skill are able to "shape" their shots: curve them right-to-left or
left-to-right, as well as hit the high backspin shot. No imagination golfers
can only hit it straight. So a hole that rewards imagination will usually have
a curved fairway that requires a hook or a draw shot. The green may be
protected by a hazard in front, requiring the player to use the high backspin
shot to hold the green. Of course, once you start combining a bunch of these
features in one hole, things get really interesting.
- BTW you can tell which skills the golfers have by how they are dressed (at
least until you start customizing them). The guys in shorts have the length and
imagination skills; the women have the imagination and accuracy skills, the
portly guys in knickers have length and accuracy, and the long pants-short
sleeve guys have all three skills.
- A real challenge in SimGolf is to design a "Classic" hole, which is a hole that
has all three skill ratings (length, accuracy, and imagination) of 1.00 or
- Some notes on the game (did you know?) by Sid Meier
- ... that your golfer's initial happiness is influenced by how
well they get along with their partner? If you need to squeeze
a few extra bucks out of your course, click on the clubhouse
to pair up your golfers and choose pairs with similar personalities.
(outgoing, playful, etc.) They'll start the round happier and pay
a bit higher green's fees on the first hole. Also, golfer's that you
have paired up are more likely to have a 'story' than those
automatically paired by the computer.
- ... that the game automatically saves every few minutes. When you
go the the 'load previous game' screen you should see a couple
of "autosave" files with a course name and date. Two of the files
are from recent saves of your game, the other is from the last
time you exited the game. You can use these as a big UNDO if
you change your mind about some course changes you've made, or
to recover a previous game state.
- ... that golfer's join and upgrade their membership at your course based
upon the number of great shots (snap shots) they have and their attitude
at the end of their round. Building a Tennis Court (Parkland), Church (Links),
will make them more likely to join or upgrade. For each Silver Member at
your course you can sell one home site to raise extra cash. And of course
selling home sites is the only way to have famous celebrities move in and
buy homes on your course! Check the 'Membership Roster' for detailed info.
- ...that elevation changes are free! Yes, you can add slopes, hills and valleys
to your course at no charge. These changes can have a dramatic effect on
the your golfers scores and attitude. A friendly hole can guide poor shots
back onto the fairway, a tricky slope can turn a small mistake into a trip
to the lake. The golfer AI factors slope and elevation into it's calculation,
so use the Shot Analysis function to get a preview of how your changes
will affect the hole.
- ... that if you create and save custom golfer characters they will show up
again the next time you play. Here's how it works: at the beginning of a
game the game creates twelve visitor golfers who will play your course.
If you have created and saved golfer characters in a previous game, they
be given priority over computer created characters and generally show up
in this first group. From then on, each time a visitor becomes a member
or upgrades his/her membership, a new visitor is invited to your course.
- ... that you can play golf with your son or daughter! It's easy to miss the
adult/child icon on the golfer customization screen. Using this feature
allows you to put your kids in the game - or turn your friends into midgets.
I scanned my picture and my son Ryan's into the game and created
a child character for him. Now I can watch as the two of us enjoy
a sunny round of golf!
- There are a lot of areas of SimGolf that are interesting to explore.
(I posted some details on the skill ratings system in a previous
message) The SimGolf Web site should be live in just a few days.
We'll have some special Theme Packs and a place for you to share
your courses, stories, etc with other simgolfers.
- More on Golfers Abilities by radiospace
- The hardest rating to get up on a hole is Creativity (I think he means Imagination - JZ)
- I believe that to have a high Creativity rating the golfer must have
several viable different shots to choose from throughout the course.
I.e., you can shoot it with a straight topspin over the trees, or you
can pull a fade around the trees, or you can hit a backspin shot right
onto the green. It's very difficult to get this on a hole because
even if there are alternate viable routes there's generally *one*
route that is superior to all the others, and all the golfers will use
- One thing I have tried in order to force a more creative solution to a
hole is watch the players, and if they are all hitting to the same
spot on the fairway, put a creek right there, which will force them to
alter their opening drive and sometimes create more dynamic play for
the rest of the hole. (I'm not sure if it works but it's just an
- One thing that is a little bit helpful in this regard is to use the
"Shot analysis" tool (it's under the raise/lower terrain palette for
some weird reason). This tool shows you the most likely results of
balls hit by normal golfers, and those who have a 0 rating in either
distance, accuracy, or imagination. If you use this a few times you
start to get an idea of what the games concept of "imagination" is by
watching what happens when a player has literally none. (Generally
speaking they will take a straight line toward the cup without taking
into account the next shot, kind of like the way I play pool.)
- The shot analysis tool should also convince to never take a 0 rating
on anything with your pro, the penalties are pretty severe.
- I suspect the other attributes -- which are identical to attributes in
The Sims -- effect how the players get along, or don't, on the course.
Someone who has a low "nice" rating is probably more likely to start
into that, "You wanna piece of me!?" routine. (I haven't figured out
if he's saying that to his club, the grass, or the other players... I
guess at that point such distinctions are trivial, however).
- As far as making the course tough but lovable, that is the name of the
game. My limited experience suggests that in part having really
pretty scenery soothes the nerves and makes the players less ornery
about getting into the rough. I'm playing on the Difficult level
right now and I have to say they act like a bunch of spoiled children
most of the time.
- Making an Imagination Hole by Avenger
- So you want a hole to be an imagination hole? A quick and very dirty way to do that is to put
trees right in front of the tee. A bunch of trees. Use the "/" key to make certain that the player
can't go over the trees. Force the player to hit a fade or a draw to hit the fairway. Voila! You
have just added about 0.25 imagination to your hole.
- However, this solution is not elegant. A more elegant solution is to make a slight dogleg in your hole, tilt the fairway at the dogleg, and funnel balls that are hit straight into the rough or a hazard. Make sure that only people who hit a
fade shot are going down the fairway for a reasonable length and you will be adding imagination.
For their second shot on this hypothetical par 4, make sure that only people with length can
reach the green in two shots. Position the cursor where the long balls landed the first time and
place the green appropriately. If done correctly you have a Heroic hole. If you also demand
accuracy (Maybe you made the landing spaces very narrow too!) then you have a Classic hole.
If you sloped the fairway again, so that only long hitters with a draw could hit the green in two
strokes, then you've upped the length and imagination a second time.
- These rating accumulate until enough golfers have finished the hole to determine the type of
hole that it is. If only imaginative players with length have birdies, and everyone else has bogeys
or worse, then it slews the ratings. Needless to say, it isn't much fun if 90% of the players are
walking off the hole with double bogeys.
- In Sid's limited knowledge of the game of Golf he has determined the criteria for each type of
rating. Your job is to figure out how to increase each rating, by creating undulations and hazards
in appropriate spots. Use the "/" key at the tee and at the places where most of the shots land.
Punish poor shots!
- Course Building Tips by Lord Corwin
- If you have a golf hole that you would like to give a fun boost and you have a Silver Member house yet to build, build the house within view near the hole. Put a water tile and a couple scenic trees near it. At first your fun rating will take a hit as a regular house is considered an eyesore. With the water tile and the scenic trees though, soon a celebrity will buy the house and will elevate the fun rating.
- Use the shot analyzer tool on the elevation panel to look for areas of your fairway where nobody is going to shoot at. Put a hazard in that area. Most of the golfers will miss this obstacle and will become happier because they made a difficult looking shot.
- Place fairway targettd to both good and bad players. Place a wide and fairly level fairway close enough to the tee for the golf-impaired (don't forget to put a hazard close by so they think they made a tough shot). Then place some narrower fairway with a little harsher elevation for those who are more skilled and have the 'Length' skill. This makes a hole approachable by both and will help in the ratings.
- If you have a hole that needs a fun boost, place one water tile on a path that they usually walk to head towards the green. If you placed it on a path, a bridge will appear. Spend the $10,000 to place a scenic bridge and nearly every golfer will make that positive comment while playing that hole.
- The Fun Rating by Sid Meier
- There have been a couple of posts asking how the
"Fun" rating works in SimGolf. The simple answer
is that it works pretty much as you'd expect, the
more fun you golfers are having, the higher the
fun rating of your holes and course. However,
since the fun measure is tied in to at least two
important game concepts: greens fees and your
fun rating it might be worth going into a little more
- When your golfers first emerge from the clubhouse
they will generally have a happiness level of somewhere
between two and five (this corresponds to a neutral to
somewhat smiley face). This initial happiness is
influenced by the difficulty level and the compatibility
of the golfer with his/her partner. From this point on
every time a golfer makes a happy comment, (the ones
displayed in green) his/her happiness will go up by one.
If the golfer makes an unhappy comment (displayed in
red) his/her happiness will go down by one. Neutral
comments (in grey) have no effect on happiness. This is
important because for each happiness point the golfer
has at the end of each hole you receive $100. Example:
a golfer leaves the clubhouse with a happiness of 3 and
makes two happy comments while playing the hole. At
the end of the hole his/her happiness will be five and you
will receive 500 simoleans. If on the next hole your
golfer has one happy comment and two unhappy
comments, his/her happiness will be down to 4 and
you will receive 400 simoleans for hole #2.
- These same happy/unhappy comments create the fun
rating for the golf holes. The basic formula is
(happy comments - unhappy comments) / (# of shots)
For example if Bob had two happy comments, one
unhappy, and took 4 shots on hole #1, his contribution
to the fun rating for hole #1 would be (2-1)/4 or 25%.
The fun rating for your course is the sum of the
individual fun ratings for each hole.
- Of course the next question is: "How to I get my golfers
to make happy comments?" Well, there are lots of
different things you can do; this is is where your
creativity and empathy with your golfers becomes
important. I'l try to talk about a couple of ideas,
starting with the concept of "look hard, play easy"
in the next post.
- Placing monuments by Sid Meier
- The happy endings landmarks encourage a positive response to the story chapters (any chapter, not just the last chapter) It's probably good to place them where golfers hang out for a while, like near a tee. In fact, one landmark can cover multiple tees if they are close to each other.
- The skill upgrade landmarks improve the chance that Gary Golf will get a skill upgrade when playing in that area.
- The happy golfers landmarks counteract bad comments and generate the "never mind" comment.
- The no dandelions landmarks should suppress the spread of dandelions, they may still appear when a golfer makes a negative coments.
- Speeding up and slowing down play by Sid Meier
- Preventing backups on your golf holes is one of the
challenges of SimGolf. Here are a few ideas you
- The easiest thing to do is hire a Ranger or Marshall and place him near the tee.
- Be sure you have paths for your golfers to use whenever they're not on a fairway.
- Don't place a ballwasher on this hole as it slows play. Also a bench or snackbar
can slow things down, try to place them near a fast hole.
- The overall RATE at which golfers arrive at your course is primarily determined by your FIRST
hole. If you think golfers are just arriving to fast you might try these changes: ADD a ballwasher
to the first hole to slow things down. Add deep rough, water, or sand between the tee and
fairway to make golfers take extra time to get to their second shot. Generally the next pair
won't start until the previous pair has hit their second shots. A little experimentation will
show what works on your course.
- Buying Land and Making Fun, Or, Why Doesn't Mr. Picky Like Me? by JZ Temple
Note: The following information is valid only for the released version of SimGolf and the 1.01 upgrade. Starting with version 1.02 Mr Picky's arrival criteria has been greatly relaxed.
- Golf course building in SimGolf can be accomplished in two modes, Normal or Sandbox. In Sandbox you are given all the land for free and nothing costs any money, so building is easy. However, building in Sandbox mode is like playing tennis without a net. Building a decent golf course in Normal mode on a restricted amount of land can be a lot of fun and quite a challenge. The following tips are based only on my observations and not on any special knowledge or access to design information.
- The SimGolf default map is laid out in a three by three grid. Depending on the choice of course you can start out with only the center section of land, or perhaps one additional section. To increase the size of the course you have to purchase additional sections of land when they are offered by Mr. I.M. Picky. Trouble is, Mr. Picky is, well, picky about when he comes around. In the two easier difficulty settings, Picky comes to play once your Fun rating reaches and stays at a certain value. In the chart below, we'll assume you started off with only the one center section of the map:
(at 100%/200% Fun per hole)
|Holes per section
(at 100%/200% Fun per hole)
- What you may notice from the chart is that it gets progressively harder to buy more land, because the Fun rating required increases by an extra factor of 100 each time. To increase the Fun rating of a course you build more holes, and also increase the individual Fun rating of each hole. However, to build more holes, you must have more land! So it becomes a vicious cycle. What becomes critically important as you progress beyond nine holes is achieving a higher average Fun rating. Also effecting this is the need for more and more land for your facilities.
- So what does this all mean? Simple. Concentrate on increasing Fun per hole when you are playing the easier two difficulty levels in Normal mode. And start doing it early. If you build holes without making them fun, you will be cramming them into the exisiting land plots to force a visit by Mr Picky so you can build more holes to buy more land... and you will run out of holes you can build (you are limited to 18, of course), before you have bought all the possible land sections.