I play my hood pretty realistically, so there are no supernatural beings, no resurrecting the dead and no sims living forever. Sims have to earn all of their money by working for it. If they need money to pay for something big, like a house, car or going to Uni, they can take out a loan. I also play based on the sims’ wants. So if a sim doesn’t have a want to do homework or go to class, they won’t go (with the exception of going to work since I rarely see a want to go to work). I do make exceptions, though. Some exceptions are a sim who has a fear of being on academic probation, but doesn’t have any actual wants that will fill their academic bar. I will have them work just enough so that they won’t go on probation (or have them influence someone else to do the work for them), but not enough to get them an A+. This will help with all sims graduating with A+s like I had in other hoods.
My way of playing is pretty simple. I play in “rounds” where I play each family in a specific order for a certain amount of days. At the start of my hood, each household was played for 5 sim days which equals 5 sim years, with the exception of University.
I've recently changed over to playing a "calendar" type aging system which was adapted from Lakeside Heights. And thanks to Carla at Sullivan, I was able to wrap my brain around this new way of playing and it seems to be working out pretty well. Basically, I'm playing each household based on a calendar year and currently (May 2010), each family update represents 1 month. The example Carla used that really helped me out is:
Jan '10 - Smith
Feb '10 - Jones
Mar '10 - Jackson
Apr '10 - Klein
May '10 - Wong
Jun '10 - Sawyer
Jul '10 - West
*Because I only have 7 households, that'd be the end of the round.
So then for Round 2, it might go:
Aug '10 - Sawyer
Sep '10 - West
Oct '10 - Klein
Nov '10 - Smith
Dec '10 - Jones
Jan '11 - Wong*
Feb '11 - Jackson
*I will add 1 year to each of their ages at the beginning of the year and if any sims ages to the next life stage, then they will be featured in a birthday post in January/Winter.
This way makes much more sense to me than the way I used to play and I'll be able to enjoy my sims for longer periods of time and will be able to see the seasons change more often, as they should.
Due to the change in the way I play, I don't follow the game's aging system anymore. Here's my aging system now:
Babies, age 0-1 (1 day)
Toddlers, ages 1-3 (3 days)
Children, ages 4-11 (8 days)
Teens, ages 12-17 (6 days)
Young Adults, ages 18-21 (if they go to college)
Adults, ages 18-59 (42 days-if they do not go to college)
Elders, ages 60 +
Here is where my nerdy-ness shows. I keep a detailed database of my sims and basic (and not so basic) information about them so I can easily reference it in and out of the game. Here's a snapshot of how my database looks as of August 2011(created in Microsoft Access):
click to enlarge
As you can see, I keep track of almost everything related to the sim. I have one page for each of my playables, a few playable NPCs and some townies who have or might play a major part in my playabale sims' lives. This helps with planning future careers, seeing who's compatible, and generally helps get all this info out of my head so I can make room for other stuff. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Per a request, I've uploaded my tracker. You can grab it here. You will need Microsoft Access 2007+ in order to add pictures to the form like above.