Like many players of the early access phenomenon, Valheim, one of my favourite things to do in-game is build stuff. My first house was little more than a barn, but I’d placed it on top of a hill to take advantage of a sweeping view across the meadows to the ocean. Inside, it had a loft-style arrangement for the bed and a mostly empty downstairs. We’d only been playing for about four hours and had no idea what would happen next, so I left it open to interpretation.
A troll knocked it down the next day—which was just as well. One of our co-players had carved a scar in the meadow to build his own place and totally ruined my view. I moved to the other side of the hill, putting a little more distance between me, the scar, and the troll-infested forest.
My second house grew through several iterations as the game developed and I discovered a need for extra rooms for new crafting stations and upgrades. The final result was a small, two-story manor in a style that seemed to fit the environment and the game. It wasn’t as sprawling, expansive, or ambitious as some of the projects my friends were undertaking, but I loved the cozy feel of it, especially when it rained. With all the fireplaces and lamps lit, the wooden interior glowed with warmth.
I next turned my attention to building crafting centers across the map as our need for ore drove us farther and farther afield, making an ocean journey back to our original village an epic undertaking. Along the way, I left bed and breakfasts in forest towers, caves carved beneath mountain rock, and on several lonely islands. By bed and breakfast, I mean a hut with a fireplace and some food. A place to dry off, repair, refuel, and gain a rest bonus before moving on. After defeating the final boss, I continued building, trying out different architectural styles. My final build on that server was an island crafting center conveniently located close to the Mistlands and Ashlands.
With the Hearth and Home update, we decided to start afresh, which meant all new builds! This time, I wanted to build bigger. I chose a hilltop with an oak tree and built my house around the tree, leaving an open courtyard at the center. I wasn’t that thrilled with the build, though. It was pretty, but also small. I rescaled everything, moving walls back and out until I’d expanded the courtyard by a 2×2 square all the way around and the house by another 2×2 square all around. This turned out a lot better, and after I finished decorating the place, I loved it. But it still wasn’t the huge, impressive build I’d been after.
While exploring northward, I located another island and built a crafting center there. I tried a brutish, Rock of Gibraltar type build in the mountains, which I like a lot, but the constant howl of the wind drove me a little nuts. Also, that friend who carved the scar through the meadow in front of my first house? He decided I needed to redecorate. (I built an oil rig in his lake, so…)
I built a platform house at the edge of the world with a perfect view of the sunrise.
I built a hunting lodge in a transplanted forest of birch.
But I still hadn’t managed a grand project. Something I’d be proud to show off on Reddit. Then I hit on a plan. I’d build the same house in two of my favourite games, Valheim and The Sims 4.
I have been playing The Sims since the day they released the first game and it would take a lot longer than a single post to outline all of my builds. It’s what I do when I want to relax. I choose a plan, or make up something new, and build.
For my grand project, I scouted some of my favourite architectural plan sites for a floorplan that forced me to go big, knowing that the challenge would be customizing the plan to accommodate the building tools, the terrain, and the unique play style of each game. I wanted both builds to be fully functional.
This is the floor plan I chose:
It’s big and promised the longed-for challenge, especially when it came to roofing, but the interior would be homey and could be adapted to both games—particularly the four-car garage, which I would repurpose into a smelting center for Valheim and a skills center for The Sims.
In the Beginning
For Valheim, I opened a new, solo game so I could experiment with Creative Mode, enabling cheats like no resource costs and removable drops, two things that saved me a ton of time. The build still took me about twenty hours (maybe more, I may have lost track of time here and there).
Getting started was the hardest part because of my primary location requirements—I wanted to build in the Plains and I would have preferred fairly level terrain. I chose the Plains for two reasons: practicality—you can grow all the crops there, and aesthetics—I find the tall, blonde grass pretty!
For The Sims, I started with a 50×50 lot to give myself plenty of space. The final build fits into a 50×40 lot as well.
In both builds, I had to knock down my first attempt about two hours in because I’d made some fundamental error (platforming in The Sims and location in Valheim).
Interestingly enough, I started (and restarted) both builds with the main entryway as that was close enough to the center of the house. I scaled it similarly in both games as four squares across (in Valheim, that’s four 2×2 floor tiles across). The rest of the build, in both games, scales away from there, but the living space feels bigger in the Valheim build, which might be due to the furniture size. I may have also given it an extra ‘square’ in length.
Normally, when building in Valheim, I frame out a room, roof it, floor it, and then move on to the next room. I followed that pattern here except for the roofing because I wasn’t sure how I’d accommodate all the directions and pitches until I had most of the ground floor mapped out.
The same went for The Sims, where roofing is always left until last because I don’t have rain rotting the timbers halfway through.
In both builds, I changed the purpose of one or two rooms to better suit the game and my style of play. Obviously, The Sims house, being ‘modern,’ follows the plan more closely, including a laundry room, a den, and second and third bathrooms. In the Valheim build, the den is an armory and the guest suite and laundry became the woodshop. I did put a guest suite on the second floor in the Valheim build, though.
I landscaped the front of The Sims build, but didn’t do a lot with the front of the Valheim build, aside from pave and fence against local pests. I landscaped the back of the Valheim build extensively, though, to include a terraced farm, windmill station, and dock.
Both builds include usable outdoor living areas, with the Valheim edition being superior, due to the sloping terrain and ocean views. I miss the days of variable terrain in The Sims! The flat building sites in The Sims 4 are super boring.
The Hard Stuff
Everything diagonal. Building diagonally in Valheim is actually pretty easy—until it comes time to put a lid on it. You can snap roof pieces into place for simple builds, but this project had too many conflicting angles. If I hadn’t wanted to have exposed ceilings inside the Valheim build, I could have run conflicting roofs into and through each other (which is pretty much what I did in The Sims) and hidden the mess with interior ceilings. I ended up doing that in the woodshop, but only because I wanted to use the upstairs space for another room.
In the metal shop, located in the wedge between the coal factory and the smelter center, I opted for a narrow-pitched roof inside and covered it over on the outside with extensions from either side.
I thought the Valheim kitchen would present me with a greater challenge, but once I turned two fireplaces sideways and made an allowance for the massive chimney, everything else fell into place. I’m particularly fond of the pantry in Valheim, which is much more visible and accessible than the pantry in The Sims.
Similarly, I thought the bathroom might be more of a challenge in Valheim as my Viking hasn’t bathed once since we started this thing. But with the new update, I had options—options that required combining the walk-in closet and bathroom in one large space, which I really like.
The stairs. Dear Loki, the stairs. Valheim actually handles diagonal stairs really well—when you have the space. In retrospect, I could have made the tower larger to better accommodate the stairs, like I did in The Sims, but the upstairs room wasn’t of primary concern to me in the Valheim build, so I fit them in the best I could and called it done.
You can’t do diagonal stairs in The Sims. It’s crazy that you can’t. I don’t understand why we can’t. I also don’t understand why every building has to be on the same level (meaning you can’t have steps up to the front door and a garage on the same property), and I really don’t understand how platforms work despite watching hours of tutorial videos and engaging in ugly experiments.
These two things were my biggest challenges with this build in The Sims. I put a square staircase in a diagonal area and it doesn’t look terrible. But it means the tower is larger in the Sims build, which doesn’t look terrible either. There are no steps to the side door because there just aren’t and I gave up trying to make that door face the right way and still work with an attached-looking garage about fifteen hours into the build.
The garage is a separate entity moved as close to the house as possible, the seam between the two hidden with a plant. The garage doors are double house doors that from a distance, do the job of looking like they could rise instead of open outward!
The Even Harder Stuff
Cosmetics. Oh, the cosmetics. I actually really like how both houses ended up, from the outside. I think they’re attractive and I think they both suit their environments quite well. Valheim handed all the beam work in the porticos better, which is to say, I could put whatever I liked in there while in The Sims, I had to choose a wallpaper that best mimicked the effect.
I did find a Craftsman frieze in The Sims that added some nice woodwork effects to the outside of the building, however.
Neither game had exact matches for exterior siding and roof trims. In both cases, I went with what I thought was the most attractive closest option. Of course, in Valheim, that’s wood, more wood, and just a little more wood. I placed stone along the front of the building to mimic the decorative touches on the plan. In The Sims, it’s the up and down paneling with a stone base in some places, and elevating the entire house gave me a full stone foundation.
As previously mentioned, I enabled dev commands in Valheim every time I worked on the house so that I could build merrily away without worrying about the resource cost, which is pretty much how build-mode in The Sims works. I also made great use of the remove drops command in Valheim to tidy up every time I had to break something down and start again. I took great joy in killing all nearby monsters with a single keystroke (even going so far as to wander into the neighboring Fuling village and hitting K—the sound of Fulings dying will never not please me), and enjoyed not dying every time I fell off the roof—except the two times I forgot to enable god mode.
In The Sims, I used the move objects cheat to place windows and doors exactly where I wanted them, some furniture and decorative objects too. I also used the motherlode cheat with one of my Sims to fund his purchase of the house so I could get in there and take pictures with game camera. I also toured him around the place checking that everything worked and didn’t find any stupid bugs—except for the one door without an exterior staircase because diagonal staircases are not a thing.
I’m pleased to report that both houses are fully functional! They’re designed to suit the game and the way I play each game, which was something I strived for right from the start of this project. I wanted the houses to follow the plan as closely as possible, be pretty, and be functional. Hitting all three of those targets puts the icing on this entire project cake!